Cementing a Commitment to Carbon Reduction
Concrete is the basis of most construction and its most significant source of emissions. Cement is the principal binding agent for producing concrete, and it is estimated that cement production alone represents 7% of manufactured CO2 emissions (equivalent to India’s as a country). Furthermore, cement production will not decarbonize as much as other materials simply by switching to “green” power/fuels.
What are the main pathways by which cement/concrete companies attempt to reduce carbon emissions? Most cement companies have credible courses for lowering emissions per ton by 10-23% in 2020-30 with currently viable technologies. The primary industry association, the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), aims for net-zero concrete by 2050, which will likely be highly dependent on CCU/CCUS (carbon capture utilization & storage), and possibly strength-enhancing agents.
Our research indicates a limited “demand-pull” for green cement. It suggests there is a greater demand for energy efficiency than reducing construction-related emissions. Both improved incorporation of cement’s emissions into a total project’s emissions- and carbon costs’ pass-through into cement pricing- are critical to meeting aggressive targets.
We highlight country-level decarbonization initiatives, including a section on China’s cement sector, the largest in the world. Cement producer leaders have ambitious short-term targets, clear pathways to long-term net-zero, and diverse project portfolios testing new technologies. Leaders in supply who are developing highly credible solutions for reducing concrete’s CO2 footprint are emerging too.