Unlocking emission reduction potential

Unlocking emission reduction potential
Published: 11 December 2015


As the world waits for the outcome of the COP21 talks in Paris, the cement industry has called for long-term policy certainty to unlock the industry's emissions reduction potential.

The Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) earlier this week announced its aim to reduce CO2 emissions by clinker producers by 20-25 per cent by 2030, as part of a new plan launched on 8 December at the UN's Climate Change Conference (COP21). The Cement Action Plan forms part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) developed in collaboration with the SDSN (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) and IEA (International Energy Agency). Over 150 companies and 70 partners have joined together to collaborate on low-carbon action plans designed to reach ambitious targets on emissions reduction. The LCTPi Cement is amongst the nine solutions developed, with the others being: Carbon Capture and Storage; Chemicals; Climate Smart Agriculture; Energy Efficiency in Building; Forests, Low Carbon Freight and Transport Fuels; and Renewables.

Cement Agenda of Actions
Building on 15 years of collaboration, the CSI and its members are working towards scaling up their efforts and leveraging the implementation of identified business solutions to a broad majority of cement companies worldwide. Engaging the whole cement sector would be delivering an additional reduction of close to 1Gt of CO2 by 2030, which is about the same amount of total CO2 emissions of Germany in 2013.  The drop in emissions is based on the 'best in class' CSI company 2020 targets.

To reach this level, the CSI is suggesting actions including enhancing the coverage of the sector’s CO2 emissions and energy consumption database, with a specific focus on China (which accounts for 60 per cent of cement worldwide production), improving energy efficiency, promoting co-processing of alternative fuels, further lowering the clinker factor of cements, developing new low-energy and low-carbon cements, engaging the full building and infrastructure value chain to reduce emissions and considering other cross-sector initiatives, particularly on the opportunity to use and store carbon.

The LCTPi on Cement has gathered CEO committment from 16 cement companies around the world including LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement, Italcementi, Cemex, CRH, Titan and Cementos Argos. With customised national roadmaps having been or are being launched in India, Brazil and Egypt, the plan has also received support from cement producers including Votorantim Cimentos, InterCement, UltraTech Cement and Shree Cement.

The Cement ambition is to implement the solutions identified and developed by CSI members
beyond CSI membership and to scale up their benefits by expanding implementation in different regions. In particular, it believes the use of robust and proven tools – such as the CO2 and Energy Accounting and Reporting Standard for the Cement Industry, the Getting the Numbers Right (GNR) and the Cement Technology Roadmaps developed by the CSI – should be suggested and offered to other key countries and regions, most notably China by reaching Chinese companies and authorities, to identify the specific solutions applicable to China. So far, the CSI has six Chinese members, including the recent addition of West China Cement.

This collective effort by the cement industry to mitigate its emissions is highly encouraging and showcases the importance of leadership and collaboration in making the transition to a low carbon economy. But the plan depends on a long-term agreement being brokered successfully in Paris as a whole, with a decision on a new carbon emissions limit widely expected by the end of the weekend. 

The LCTPi identifies the barriers the cement industry faces, what needs to be done, by whom and when.  The keys to achieving the goals sit beneath a general policy ask to "encourage policies for predictable, objective, level-playing and stable CO2 constraints and incentives as well as energy frameworks on an international level.In many cases, the technologies are already available but there are either political barriers that need to be removed or financial incentives to be put in place to scale up investment in implementing existing and developing breakthrough technologies required to deliver meaningful reduction targets.  As Peter Bakker, President & CEO of WBCSD, stresses: “We count on the support of policymakers worldwide and the financial community in removing the barriers to scale up.”