Cement companies must double emission cuts to deliver Paris Agreement

9th April 2018


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Author

Paul Thomas

Cement firms across the world need to more than double their emission reductions if global warming is to be limited to below 2˚C as set out in the Paris Agreement.

That is according to a report released today by the CDP, which highlights how the cement industry accounts for 6% of global CO2 emissions and is the world’s second most polluting industrial sector after steel.

Analysis of 13 of the largest publicly listed companies found that Indian firms are leading the way in emission cuts thanks largely to their newer and more efficient cement plants.

This is in sharp contrast to European producers that rely on older plants, with the CDP arguing that regulation and significant technological innovation will be key to driving change in the sector.

“Cement is a heavy and largely invisible polluter, yet taken for granted as a necessary building block of basic civilisation,” CDP CEO, Paul Simpson said.

“Cement companies need to invest and innovate in order to avoid impending risks to their operations and the wider world. There is a solution – cement companies just need to invest properly in finding it.”

Concrete is the most consumed product in the world after water, of which cement is a key ingredient, and is used extensively for offices and buildings in the built environment, which accounts for a third of global emissions.

The CDP said that Carbon Capture and Storage presents a significant opportunity for creating low-carbon cement, but that the technology’s use in the sector is still in its early stages.

It was also found that five of the companies studied do not use an internal carbon price, further hindering progress, while just one firm incentivises climate risk management through executive level remuneration.

Companies in developing countries could also benefit from using alternative fuels for powering cement production like many firms do in Europe, although limited infrastructure is thought to be holding this back.

In addition, the CDP said that structural issues and lobbying of policymakers have undermined the potential for changes in European carbon regulation such as the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

“It is clearly a complicated story because of our global reliance on cement, and the inherent emissions of the sector, but there are things that can be done,” CDP senior analyst, Marco Kisic, said.

“Regulation may be the key driver for change here, and interestingly this may come from downstream as building regulators and owners shift their focus from operational emissions, to those associated with creating the buildings themselves.”

Image credit: iStock

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