The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) announced today that it has launched a new initiative, a joint industry ‘2050 Climate Ambition,’ aiming to drive down the CO2 footprint of the building materials, and aspiring to deliver carbon neutral concrete by 2050. The GCCA represents 40 of the largest global cement and concrete companies, including industry leaders LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement, and Cemex.

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.”

Building materials companies are coming increasingly in focus in the fight against climate change, due to the carbon-intensity of their primary products. Cement production, an ingredient in concrete, accounts for approximately 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with over 900 kg of CO2 emissions generated for every 1000 kg of material produced. The industry has made advancements in reducing the impact of their product, including a 19% reduction in CO2 emissions per tonne of cementitious material along with a ninefold increase in alternative fuel use since 1990.

Today’s announcement marks the first time the cement and concrete industry has come together globally to state a collective ambition for a carbon neutral future. The statement identifies the essential levers that will be required to achieve 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.

According to the GCCA, member companies have started work on a 2050 concrete roadmap, highlighting actions and milestones that the industry will enact in order to achieve its ambition. The 2050 concrete roadmap is due to be published in the second half of 2021.

Albert Manifold, GCCA President and Chief Executive of CRH plc, said:

“The 2050 Climate Ambition represents our industry’s commitment to further reducing emissions and ensuring that the vital product we provide can be delivered on a carbon neutral basis by 2050. There is a significant challenge involved in doing so and achieving alignment across our industry on a sustainable way forward is an important first step. We cannot, however, succeed alone and in launching our ambition statement we are also highlighting the need for our industry to work collaboratively with other stakeholders in support of our ambition for a more sustainable future.”