Sustainability

Cement is an essential construction material, key to the development of emerging markets everywhere.

There are currently no feasible substitutes for cement in many of its applications, including crucial infrastructure, such as bridges and dams.

Global cement production will continue to grow for the foreseeable future – likely beyond 2050 – with rapid increases in India and across Africa, although these will be partially offset by declines in production in China and the West by 2030.

Globally, cement accounts for 2.5Gt of CO2 emissions, equating to about 7% of the world’s total. As the release of CO2 arising from the decomposition of limestone in the cement kiln is a process at present inherent to the production of cement, the industry therefore poses one of the most difficult challenges in the shift to a low-carbon economy.

sustainability

Alternative, less carbon-intensive cement innovations are coming onto the market but are only likely only make a moderate contribution to emissions reductions, due to limits to their applications.

At present, emissions can only notably be reduced by increasing the usage of waste derived fuels and biomass across the cement-making process, whilst longer term, emissions could be decreased via the use of synthetic fuels from carbon capture or the electrification of heat generation.

Eliminating process emissions will require the use of carbon capture and storage or usage, which will inevitably add cost, though this may be partially offset by developments in carbon usage technologies for building materials, synthetic fuels and other high-volume applications.

We believe that there is also the potential to moderate the increase in cement demand, by improved product selection, new technologies and changes to construction practices driven by digitalisation and AI.

WCA supports a sustainable cement industry and encourages technical development and other steps to achieve full decarbonisation. Our aim is to accelerate change towards a decarbonised cement sector and limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2 ̊C and as close as possible to 1.5 ̊C. We achieve this through the dissemination of best sustainable practices across our membership network and professional committees.