MPA: Cement Sustainability Report confirms carbon costs ‘harming the industry’

MPA: Cement Sustainability Report confirms carbon costs ‘harming the industry’
Published: 01 December 2014

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) Cement on Friday published its 2013 Sustainable Development report which highlights the challenges the industry faces in remaining competitive and contributing to a sustainable UK economy. It identifies UK specific carbon costs being applied to the sector as a major burden and potential threat to the future of the industry and calls on the UK Government to continue to fight for a level playing field, that will allow the sector to compete against overseas suppliers and other competing construction materials.

Pal Chana, executive director of MPA Cement, commented: “The UK Cement industry’s track record on carbon reduction is second-to-none and we were the first national cement sector trade association in the world to publish a 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy in February 2013. Yet a UK only carbon price support tax that took effect in April 2013 will be applied in full to cement, whereas some competing construction materials will receive compensation from the Government for most of the extra costs that they will incur. This is at a time when compensation is also being paid to those same industries for the indirect costs associated with the EU Emissions Trading System. This imbalance just adds to the cumulative cost burden that the cement industry has to bear and distorts fair competition.”

European State Aid rules currently prevent MPA Cement members from being compensated against these externally imposed costs and "this is undermining the industry’s future economic sustainability," the MPA states.

The trade body notes that cement will play a crucial role in the delivery of the Government’s multi-billion pound infrastructure and housing programmes as these programmes depend on a secure and regular supply of concrete. Yet, the MPA stresses that between 2014 and 2020, the UK cement industry faces GBP353m of costs associated with carbon  reduction, passed on in electricity prices, that many of its competitors will not have. "This puts domestically produced cement at an immediate disadvantage and threatens the future of a vital product that has its modern-day origins in Britain," it warns.

Dr Chana added: “Britain needs an economically sustainable domestic cement industry in order to have a sustainable domestic economy and one that can compete globally. Maintaining the UK cement industry’s competitiveness, while improving performance, remains a top priority for MPA Cement and should be one for the UK Government. Sustainable local production of cement is not just for the benefit of our members, but essential for the whole country.”

The Sustainable Development report shows that environmental performance of the industry in 2013 continued to go from strength to strength with further reductions of oxides of Nitrogen, Sulphur Dioxide and dust, all down on the previous year. CO2 emissions in 2013 were very slightly up on 2012, but still down 25 per cent from 1998.