Global concrete producers aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

Forty cement and concrete companies have unveiled a joint industry 2050 Climate Ambition to drive down the CO2 footprint of the world’s most used man-made product, with an aspiration to deliver carbon-neutral concrete by 2050.

Launched by the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) on behalf of its member companies, the ambition statement represents a critical milestone for the industry. It is the first time the industry has come together globally to state a collective ambition for a carbon-neutral future.

The statement identifies the essential levers that will be required to achieving carbon-neutral concrete, including: reducing and eliminating energy-related emissions, reducing process emissions through new technologies and deployment of carbon capture, more efficient use of concrete, reuse and recycling of concrete and buildings, and harnessing concrete’s ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

The GCCA 2050 climate ambition outlines how in the coming years the industry can achieve carbon neutral concrete by:

  • eliminating its direct energy-related emissions and maximizing the co-processing of waste from other industries
  • reducing and eliminating indirect energy emissions through renewable electricity sources
  • reducing process emissions through new technologies and deployment of carbon capture at scale
  • reducing the content of both clinker in cement and cement in concrete, as well as more efficient use of concrete in buildings and infrastructure
  • reprocessing concrete from construction and demolition waste to produce recycled aggregates to be used in concrete manufacturing; and
  • quantifying and enhancing the level of CO2 uptake of concrete through recarbonation and enhanced recarbonation in a circular economy, whole life context.

Dinah McLeod, GCCA Chief Executive said: “As we face the challenges for future generations and begin global economic recovery, concrete will be even more critical to building the sustainable world of tomorrow. That’s why we are making this commitment today, in order that our crucial industry aligns with global targets, including the Paris Agreement.

”Concrete has a vital role to play in addressing the need for sustainable communities and prosperity. It is a key ingredient of infrastructure, homes, clean water and community resilience as our climate changes. Crucially, it will also help facilitate the transition to clean/green energy. We believe this journey will be challenging but are fully committed to working together with our members, partners and stakeholders across the industry and supply chain to achieve this ambition.”

According to the association, the concrete and cement industry is a key part of the construction sector – which accounts for 13 per cent of global GDP – with a track record of taking climate action. This has included delivering a 19 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions per tonne of cementitious material along with a ninefold increase in alternative fuel use since 1990.

“The 2050 Climate Ambition represents our industry’s commitment to further reducing emissions and ensuring that the vital product we provide can be delivered on a carbon neutral basis by 2050. There is a significant challenge involved in doing so and achieving alignment across our industry on a sustainable way forward is an important first step. We cannot, however, succeed alone and in launching our ambition statement we are also highlighting the need for our industry to work collaboratively with other stakeholders in support of our ambition for a more sustainable future,” said Albert Manifold, GCCA President and Chief Executive of CRH plc.

GCCA member companies are currently developing a 2050 concrete roadmap, which will set out the detailed actions and milestones that the industry will enact in order to achieve its ambition. The roadmap is due to be published in the second half of 2021.

More on the Climate Ambition 2050 and the 2050 Concrete Roadmap can be found  here.