Global manufacturers of concrete, an industry that represents 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, have pledged to cut their emissions by 25% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050. The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) announced their ambition on behalf of members, which include 40 of the world’s biggest producers and cover 80% of the industry outside of China.
The GCCA’s commitment comes ahead of COP26, and is based on a 7-point roadmap to achieve these targets. The roadmap’s goals include increasing the substitution of clinker (whose production accounts for half of the concrete’s overall CO2 emissions) with alternative materials; reducing fossil fuel usage throughout the production value chain; investing in technologies and innovation; and developing infrastructure for Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS).
Concrete is one of the most challenging sources of greenhouse gas emissions to be tackled in the global journey to achieve net zero. This is because of the huge quantities we manufacture, as well as the emissions intensity of cement. Second only to water, concrete is the most used substance on Earth, with three tonnes used per year for each person on the planet – and demand is expected to grow. Global production is projected to increase from over 4 to 5 billion tonnes per year, in part due to urbanisation and infrastructure development in emerging economies, such as Southeast Asia and Africa. However, its growing production comes at a time when concrete’s emissions need to sharply decrease for the global economy to achieve net zero.
In addition to potentially easing COP26 discussions, this pledge will come as welcome news to companies whose supply chains include emissions from construction. The increasing uptake in corporate net zero strategies, largely guided by the recommendations of the Science Based Targets Initiative, has led to mounting pressure on companies to measure and decarbonise their full value chain footprint, beyond direct operations. Ambitious though the GCCA’s commitments are, they emphasise that support from other parts of the economy are also needed to assist the transition to low-carbon concrete and will ultimately create an impact that stretches far beyond their member organisations.
Author: Chloe Parkin