Construction gets greener with 2050 carbon-neutral concrete target
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
When an industry which is estimated to contribute around 8% of global carbon emissions announces its intention to be carbon-neutral by 2050, it should be hailed as a laudable target. When that same industry is one which most people are unaware of the extent of its carbon footprint, it is doubly-so.
The Global Cement & Concrete Association (GCCA) announced on September 1st a joint-industry 2050 Climate Ambition which demonstrates the aspiration to deliver carbon-neutral concrete by 2050. This announcement is on behalf of the 40 GCCA members including LafargeHolcim, CNBM, Heidelberg and Cemex – four of the five leading cement producers in the world.
The production of cement, by its very nature, is carbon-intensive due to reliance on heat and transport so it is hoped the target will be reached through creating a circular economy by:
Reducing energy-related emissions and process emissions through new technologies.
Deployment of carbon capture technologies.
More efficient recycling and reuse of concrete and buildings.
Harnessing concrete’s ability to absorb and store carbon.
The GCCA states that the industry has already delivered a 19% reduction in carbon emissions per tonne of cement materials coupled with a ninefold increase in use of alternative fuel since 1990.
The challenge ahead remains formidable: a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in June identified the carbon intensity of producing cement had increased by 0.5% per year since 2104. The IEA called on governments to stimulate investment and innovation in research into the new technologies highlighted in the GCCA report.
It is estimated that 55% of global production of cement occurs in China which reflects the massive amount of building taking place there. This is expected to decelerate with a higher proportion of global cement production occurring in India and Africa as these regions develop their infrastructure. With this in mind, it is significant that the companies who have signed up to the GCCA Climate Ambition include many of the main producers across these regions.