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Editorial comment

The end of last year marked an unprecedented milestone in the international negotiations on climate change. Significantly, the negotiations not only produced a legally binding, ambitious and balanced text of commitment by the countries; but also clearly recognised the important role of businesses in the collaborative approach to reduce emissions. The Paris Agreement, achieved as a result of COP21 sets a framework for states in working on mitigation and adaptation to climate change and for businesses to develop and scale up the implementation of solutions.

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The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)1 was well advanced in considering the role of businesses with its Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiatives (LCTPi)2. Officially launched during COP21, these initiatives contribute to the securing of clear international commitments amongst businesses for implementing actions across their value chains to reduce emissions.

Together with its members of the world’s leading 25 cement producers, the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI)3 is the key contributor, leading the development of the LCPTi Cement. The initiative aimed to involve the whole cement sector with the aspirational goal of setting an average emission rate equivalent to the best-in-class CSI companies’ 2020 targets. The LCTPi Cement also calls upon the cement industry as a whole to support the reduction of CO2 emissions in the range of 20 to 25% by 2030 compared to business as usual.

We are pleased that currently 18 CEOs of the CSI member companies demonstrated leadership through a shared statement that invited the whole sector to join the action plan to achieve the reduction targets.

The implementation of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and their regular revision every five years for more ambitious commitments will be accompanied with the necessity for countries to provide elaborated details of mitigation targets in the future, including scope and coverage of greenhouse gases (GHGs), baselines and reference points. As countries will need to ask the various sectors of their economy to provide specific emissions data, a database such as the CSI Getting the Numbers Right (GNR)4 will gain importance as it is the most comprehensive database of verified emissions of any industrial sector. It will be useful for ensuring the consistency and accuracy of GHG national inventories and for developing new international market mechanisms. Having such data will also help to ensure that any national measure (that might differ from country to country as per the INDCs) will not generate ‘carbon leaks’ and overall failure to reduce sector emissions.

Finally and importantly for our industry, the Paris Agreement weighs both adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change equally. The focus on adaptation is an important shift and allows a more holistic approach to evaluate the full value of cement and concrete products. As an industry, we can further evaluate and report on the avoided emissions of using cement and concrete – in buildings and infrastructure applications – which will benefit from the material’s inherent qualities such as resilience and improved energy efficiency.