Concrete - the world’s most widely used material - targets carbon neutral future

The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), of which we are a part, has just announced the worldwide launch of the 2050 Carbon Neutral Concrete Climate Ambition. We are part of this historic milestone, together with the largest cement and concrete companies in the world: for the first time, we now have a declaration of our collective ambition for a carbon neutral future.

Launched by the GCCA on behalf of its member companies, 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 climate ambition builds on the longstanding climate commitments and sustainability progress of GCCA member companies and affiliate associations across the world, setting out a global vision for the long-term sustainability of concrete, the vital building material that has shaped the modern world.

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.”

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

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. This will include working across the built environment value chain to deliver the vision of carbon neutral concrete in a circular economy, whole life context. The 2050 concrete roadmap is due to be published in the second half of 2021.

As the world deals with the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis, the construction sector is playing an important role in economic recovery. The GCCA’s climate ambition statement demonstrates its commitment to helping build a more sustainable and safer future – recognising that the world needs cleaner and greener infrastructure.

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

  • eliminating our 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.

We know that this journey will be challenging, but we are fully committed and will work together with other companies, partners and stakeholders to build a legacy that we are proud of and that will impact present and future generations.

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