GCCA calls on governments and policymakers to step up to the plate

GCCA calls on governments and policymakers to step up to the plate
15 October 2021

The time has come for policymakers, governments, investors, researchers and customers to play their part in achieving net zero concrete by 2050, according to Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim Group, speaking at the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) 2050 Net Zero Roadmap presentation this week.

"We now need governments around the world to work with us and use their huge procurement power to advocate for low-carbon concrete in their infrastructure and housing needs," added Thomas Guillot, chief executive, GCCA. "We require their support to change regulation that limits the use of recycled materials and impedes the transition to a low carbon and circular economy."

Since 1990 the concrete and cement industry has already lowered carbon emissions by around 20 per cent. This latest roadmap sets out a detailed plan to not only achieve net zero concrete by 2050 but also an ambitious intermediate target of cutting CO2 emissions by a further 25 per cent by 2030, equivalent to almost 15bn passenger flights from Paris to New York. This marks the biggest global commitment by an industry to net zero so far.

The roadmap, which has been 15 months in development, identifies seven levers in the path to net zero. These include savings in clinker production (forecast to make an 11 per cent contribution to CO2 emission savings by 2050), savings in cement and binders (nine per cent), carbon capture and utilisation/storage (36 per cent), efficiency in design and construction (22 per cent), CO2 sink/recarbonisation (six per cent), decarbonisation of electricity (five per cent) and efficiency in concrete production (11 per cent).

"The cement industry recognised climate change more than two decades ago, and was one of the first industries in the world to mobilise for sustainability and develop standards to report carbon emissions," said Fernando A Gonzalez, CEO of Cemex, also speaking at the event. "With the GCCA's issuance of the roadmap to arrive at net zero concrete by 2050, it continues demonstrating the industry’s leadership in climate action. We, however, cannot do it alone."

"We, as an industry, can be nicely inserted into a circular economy. We can absorb multiple wastes and residues from other industries and from households, and we can incorporate those into our products without our products suffering," said Mr Gonzalez. The process of product approval, however, is happening slower than the process of R&D. Without the right permitting framework, innovation will not happen fast enough to achieve our goals, warns the GCCA.

Governments around the world are being called on to step up to the plate and implement procurement reforms to encourage the use of low-carbon cement and concrete products, introduce appropriate carbon pricing mechanisms, and put in place legislation to support a circular economy and the development of new technologies, such as carbon capture. The industry has reportedly committed to 10 industrial-scale carbon capture plants by 2030 but, as Magali Anderson, chief sustainability officer at Holcim, argued, this needs to be made scalable and financially viable.

With public infrastructure accounting for almost 60 per cent of all global cement and concrete demand, getting all players in the value chain onboard with the net zero commitment is key. With its members representing 80 per cent of total cement and concrete production outside China, the GCCA hopes to continue to lead the way in the UN’s global Race to Zero. As António Guterres, secretary-general, UN, noted, "Three quarters of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 has yet to be built. Without credible action now, future generations will have no liveable planet to build upon."

A link to the GCCA 2050 Cement and Concrete Industry Roadmap for Net Zero Concrete can be found here.

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Tagged Under: GCCA decarbonisation roadmap UK