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Minimising emissions in cement production

World Cement,

Cement is the active constituent of concrete which will play an increasingly crucial role in future CO2 mitigation, through improvements in energy efficient building techniques.

A major programme of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) has been focusing its attention on understanding, managing and minimising the impacts of cement production for over 10 years. This is a global effort by 18 of the world’s leading cement producers who represent around 30% of the world’s cement production.

This year’s efforts
With key climate negotiations taking place this December at the COP15 talks in Copenhagen, the work of the CSI during 2009 has been concentrated around delivering several major reports; focusing particularly on the sustainable future of cement. One of the most important projects undertaken so far by the CSI is the development of a comprehensive economic and policy modelling program; designed to examine the feasibility of a Sectoral Approach to greenhouse gas mitigation. The findings, published in May, highlight four potential methods that can contribute to abatement; improvements in energy efficiency, increased use of alternative fuels, additional blending and carbon capture and storage. The modelling also shows that a significant reduction in emissions could be achieved by adopting a sectoral approach in the cement industry; when compared to the base case.

Getting the Numbers Right
Much of the data required to develop the model was drawn from another important project undertaken by the CSI – Getting the Numbers Right (GNR). The GNR system is a sector-wide global information database that provides accurate, verified data on the cement industry’s CO2 emissions and energy performance. In addition to CSI members, CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, collects information from non-CSI cement plants in Europe, ensuring nearly complete coverage of all cement installations there.

The database is independently managed by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), who provide data security to manage antitrust and confidentiality concerns. GNR shows that an effective measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) system can be developed and managed by an industry. Furthermore, reliable and up-to-date emissions data is critical for emissions benchmark-setting in a sector like cement.

Cement industry leads the way
The work undertaken on sectoral approach modelling, developing the GNR database and other projects, - including a major new report on recycling concrete, in which the CSI calls for moves towards zero landfill – serve as evidence that the cement industry is a leading sector in terms of its understanding of potential mitigation and adaptation measures to combat climate change.

With good representation from cement manufacturers in Europe, North and South America, the CSI is now actively encouraging engagement and involvement from developing countries. The initiative already counts Indian cement manufacturers among its members and several stakeholder forums have been held with Chinese cement producers, regulators and NGOs. The ambition is to include Chinese companies among the membership in the near future.

Author: Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI)

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