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Editorial comment

Just hours after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden signed an executive order that will see the US re-join the Paris climate accord. Subject to a 30-day notice period, this move will see the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses return to the fold and acknowledge the global scientific consensus that climate change is one of gravest issues facing the planet. In addition to the symbolism of this move, President Biden is expected to hold an international climate summit later this year where details of a plan for the US to reach net zero emissions by 2050 are to be outlined.

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The Portland Cement Association (PCA) announced its own carbon neutrality roadmap back in November of last year, and was quick to welcome the Biden administration’s plan to re-engage with international partners on this issue. Michael Ireland, PCA President and CEO, stated that: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The cement and concrete industry have an important role to play in decarbonising the manufacturing sector while providing the building materials necessary for a safe, resilient, and sustainable economy.”

Companies across the cement sector continue to make strides towards improving their environmental footprint. Lafarge Canada, in partnership with Svante Inc and Total S.A., have reached another milestone in their CO2MENT carbon capture project. The partnership recently completed Phase II, which involved the construction of equipment necessary to capture and filter CO2 emissions from flue gas. Phase III, which is scheduled to take place over the next three years, will include the installation of a liquefaction unit and the development of an expansion project to further reduce emissions, as well as a business case review for further expansion across the Lafarge network.

Also in Canada, Lehigh Cement has made progress on its own feasibility study for the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at its plant in Edmonton, Alberta. The Lehigh CCS Feasibility Study, held in partnership with the International CCS Knowledge Centre and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is looking at the viability of capturing 90 – 95% of the CO2 – an estimated 600 000 t annually – from the cement plant’s flue gas.

Of course, it’s not just CCS that the cement industry is deploying to fight climate change. In one recent example, Tarmac has signed an agreement with Eco-Power Environmental for the provision of solid-recovered fuel (SRF) pellets. These fuels reduce CO2 emissions, conserve natural resources and help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. In 2019, more than 30% of the heat input to Tarmac’s cement kilns was produced from waste-derived fuels.

To find out more about how the cement sector can reduce its environmental footprint, make sure to attend World Cement’s EnviroTech 2021 on 20 – 21 April. This interactive online conference will feature live Q&As with experts and presentations from companies such as LafargeHolcim, Votorantim Cimentos, FLSmidth, and many more. Register for free at:

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