Leading cement and concrete manufacturers from across the world have come together to create a pathway to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Representing 80% of total production outside China, these 40 producers have joined forces to accelerate the shift to greener concrete by pledging to cut CO2 emissions by a further 25% by 2030, marking a decisive step in the race to ‘Net Zero’ concrete by 2050.

This move by the members of the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) marks the biggest international commitment by an industry to net zero so far, bringing together companies from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. It follows the September announcement during New York Climate Week that the GCCA has become the first global ‘heavy’ industry accelerator for the UN’s global Race to Zero.

The roadmap published by the GCCA sets out the path for the industry to fully decarbonise by 2050, a target aligned with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The roadmap, which includes an intermediate 7-point plan to reduce emissions by up to 25% by 2030, will prevent almost 5 billion tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of almost 15 billion passenger flights from Paris to New York.

More than 14 billion cubic metres of concrete are produced each year globally to build everything from roads to bridges, tunnels to homes, and hydropower installations to flood defences. However, production of cement, the key ingredient in concrete, accounts for around 7% of global CO2 emissions. GCCA’s 2030 commitment relies on ambitious yet achievable actions to reduce the amount of CO2-intensive clinker in cement, significantly reduce fossil fuel use in manufacturing, and accelerate innovation in products, process efficiency and breakthrough technologies including carbon capture.

While outlining this ambitious programme for its members, GCCA has also called on governments    and policymakers to fully play their part by assembling the right public policies and investments to support the global scale transition of the industry. In addition to development of critical technologies such as carbon capture and storage, the association has sought reforms to public works procurement policy to encourage the use of low-carbon cement and concrete products, given that public infrastructure accounts for almost 60% of all global cement and concrete demand.

“Concrete is the world’s most used building material and provides the foundation for renewable energy transition, resilient infrastructure and new homes around the world. Global cooperation on decarbonising concrete is a necessity, as countries developing their infrastructure and housing will be the biggest users of concrete in the coming decades,” GCCA chief executive Thomas Guillot said.

“We now need governments around the world to work with us and use their huge procurement power to advocate for low carbon concrete in their infrastructure and housing needs. We require their support to change regulation that limits the use of recycled materials and impedes the transition to a low carbon and circular economy,” Guillot added.

GCCA’s 7-point plan for 2030

GCCA’s 7-point plan for 2030 focuses on increased clinker substitution with supplementary materials such as fly ash, ground granulated blast-furnace slag, calcined clays, unburnt and ground limestone or recycled concrete fines; reduced use of fossil fuel and increased use of greener fuels; investment in technology and innovation through GCCA’s flagship global research network, Innovandi; innovative cements including new clinker substitutes and new types of clinker and new concrete mix designs; Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) plants; improved efficiency in the design and use of concrete during construction; and a policy framework to achieve net zero concrete by 2050.

Image source: GCCA