In past years, an increasing number of governments and corporations have announced net-zero emission ambitions to support the goals of the Paris Agreement and to limit the increase in average global temperature. These goals highlight the importance of how industry will account for the carbon content of the products it produces.
There will be increasing attention by customers to accuracy and consistency of carbon accounting approaches. In the lubricants industry, this need is being addressed by the American Petroleum Institute, which is working to create a recommended practice document on lubricant life cycle assessment and quantification of lubricant carbon footprints.
The pace of this transition will vary in different regions. In many markets lubricants will play an important role by enabling new engine and transmission hardware to operate efficiently and deliver improved fuel economy and longer oil drain intervals, both of which facilitate lower emissions. To allow for these improvements, both engine and drive train lubricants are trending toward lower viscosity, while continuing to protect the hardware.
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Even when internal combustion engines stop being produced, there are lubricant applications that will still be required for fully electric vehicles and many ICEs will remain in the car park for decades to come. Full battery electric vehicles will require various fluids—including transmission fluids and heat transfer fluids—to ensure safe and efficient operation.