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Editorial comment

A great summer of sport is just around the corner. 2024 brings the return of the Olympic Games to Paris after exactly 100 years and on Friday 14 June, Germany will open its doors to a mass of frenzied football fans from across the continent as it hosts the UEFA European Championships. After football’s international governing body, FIFA, misleadingly promoted the 2022 Qatar World Cup as ‘carbon neutral’ – a strategy which attracted criticism from advertising authorities that found the supposed carbon offsetting measures to be problematic – UEFA, football’s European governing body, has pledged to make Euro 2024 the greenest football tournament to date. The tournament’s ESG strategy is backed by a €32 million investment, and no oil and gas companies have been selected as commercial partners. This stands in stark contrast to FIFA’s very recent announcement at the end of April of its new sponsorship deal with the largest oil and gas company in the world, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco.


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Key to its aim for Euro 2024 to become the reference point for climate-responsible sporting events, UEFA has urged national teams to strongly consider travelling between fixtures by bus or train, rather than opting for heavily polluting domestic flights. The match schedule has been adapted to promote shorter distance journeys in the tournament’s group stage, and free public transport is being offered to ticket holders in an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of spectators. Following through on these measures will be key to UEFA’s reputation as a sustainable sporting governing body following last year’s decision to expand European club football and schedule an additional 177 fixtures across three tournaments in the 2024-25 season – a choice which BBC Sport highlighted could result in teams and fans travelling a total of approximately 2 billion air miles.¹

However, the downstream industry is progressing when it comes to making our planet’s skies cleaner. At the heart of this progress is the role of catalysis and the development of higher quality catalysts to develop more efficient pathways for the transformation of feedstocks into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). As just one example, last year, ART, a joint venture (JV) of Chevron and Grace, launched a hydroprocessing catalyst solution to produce renewable diesel and SAF from 100% renewable sources, such as vegetable oils, refined oils, animal fats, and greases. Today, it is clear that continued innovation has never been more important, and the development of modern catalyst technologies will be vital in meeting increasingly stringent emissions reduction targets. Articles in this issue from Shell Catalysts and Technologies, Malvern Panalytical and Ketjen dive into the invaluable role of catalysts in the downstream industry, and explore the role that they will play in a more sustainable future.

With the mounting pressure to decarbonise affecting all corners of the industry, collaboration and partnerships will be key in the transition, a topic which is explored in more detail on p. 33 of this issue by Sulzer Chemtech. As UEFA has stated, ‘only in unity’ can the power of football as the most popular sport in the world be leveraged to successfully spread a sustainable message.² And only through collaboration and continued innovation will the downstream industry create a greener future.

This month, the city of Frankfurt in Germany will not only be one of 10 host cities of UEFA’s Euro 2024, but also to ACHEMA, an event which aims to foster sustainable connections in the process industries. If this is where you are picking up this copy of the magazine, you can register to Hydrocarbon Engineering for free by scanning the QR code and keep up-to-date with the downstream industry’s energy transition.

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/67159156#:~:text=BBC%20Sport%20research%20suggests%20the,1.5%20billion%20in%202022%2D23.
  2. ‘Our strategy for a sustainable UEFA Euro 2024’, UEFA, (July 2023).

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