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CEMBUREAU: A Clean Planet for All

Thursday, February 21, 2019

CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, supports the Euro-pean Commission in its efforts to meet the Paris Agreement object-ives. The European cement industry shares the vision for a carbon neutral Europe. This ambition will require a joint stakeholder action across the European value chains to step up the EU’s efforts.

CEMBUREAU, the European Cement Association, supports the Euro-pean Commission in its efforts to meet the Paris Agreement object-ives. The European cement industry shares the vision for a carbon neutral Europe. This ambition will require a joint stakeholder action across the European value chains to step up the EU’s efforts.

On track towards the mid-century objectives

The cement sector, together with other en-ergy intensive industries, forms the back-bone of a thriving European economy and is a key enabler for the low carbon transi-tion in the EU.
The European cement industry is contribut-ing proactively to the transition towards a low carbon economy already today. A re-cent assessment of the sector’s Roadmap validates its compliance with the Paris Agreement objectives in the 2050 perspec-tive and therefore confirms it is a robust in-strument to guide the cement sector. Thanks to continuous investments, the ce-ment sector has developed technologies to decrease fossil fuel use and to regularly in-crease the use of alternative energy sources and secondary raw materials.
Currently, Europe is the world leader in re-placing 44 % of primary fossil fuels with al-ternative fuels taken from a variety of waste streams. The waste is sourced in unique industrial symbiosis efforts with actors in waste management and therewith puts the cement industry firmly in the circular economy. The cement industry aims for an average substitution rate as high as 60 % by 2030.

In addition, cement kilns have become highly energy efficient as older plants are being upgraded or replaced. The effort in reducing the carbon footprint of cement by decreasing the amount of clinker in cement is progressing as well. Last, but not least, the cement sector is developing a bundle of breakthrough CO2 capture technol ogies, low-carbon products and is actively en-gaged in exploring CO2 valorisation.

Still, a closer cooperation between industry and public financing is needed. These pro-jects would require further support in order to reach technical and economic viability and to get them through the demonstration phase.

Besides reducing the carbon footprint of its own activities, the European cement sector is collaborating with partners from across its value chain to develop innovative tech-nologies for cement and concrete uses. This allows concrete to remain a product with the lowest embodied carbon and energy footprint over a lifetime of a structure com-pared to other construction material.

Innovative enabler of the low carbon transition

Moving along the value chain, the cement industry demonstrates that the unique char-acteristics of cement and concrete form efficient and affordable levers in the trans-formation towards a low carbon economy. It is a basic material to construct today the low-carbon built environment we will need tomorrow.

The cement sector gives solutions to the need for carbon removals, can play a role in thermal energy storage and offers a CO2 valorisation option. All these elements rep-resent an untapped potential for the low carbon economy by 2050.

Carbon removal: Uniquely, cement and concrete can act as a carbon sink. Thanks to a natural process of absorbing CO2 by hy-drated cement in concrete or mortars, called (re)carbonation, CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere by the built environment. An international and scientific initiative is ongoing and aims at developing an appro-priate methodology for the phenomenon to be taken into account in national inven-tories in the context of IPCC reporting. Thermal energy storage: Concrete in buildings has proven to be an affordable and efficient thermal battery as it stores the thermal energy to lower the building energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Thermal mass refers to concrete’s unique availability to store energy and release it over a daily cycle, leading to reduced energy for heat-ing and cooling. In addition, the flexibility provided by the thermal mass of buildings could lead to significant savings at the level of the electricity grid.

CO2 valorisation option: Cement and concrete also offer a CO2 valorisation op-tion. Captured CO2 can be reused to pro-duce new solid materials (i.e. polymers, methanol) as well as stored permanently in concrete through a process of miner-alisation which also allows to increase its strength. Solid raw materials, by-products as well as recycled construction and demo-lition waste can be carbonated.

Equal chances to succeed

A coherent EU regulatory framework – encompassing climate, energy, industrial, trade and environmental policies and inte-grating all of these policies in a single in-dustrial policy – is a necessary precondition for the success of the low carbon economy. For the cement and concrete industry to remain a fundamental enabler of the tran-sition, the European legislation needs to ensure a regulatory level playing field, both from a geographical and sectoral point of view.

It is indeed essential that, as long as there are no comparable climate change burdens on operators in other parts of the world, European industry continues to be given carbon leakage status.

From a product point of view, the cement sector urges that any kind of legislation aiming at addressing a future low carbon economy should follow material neutrality principles and be based on lifecycle perfor-mance.

The policy makers should proceed to an assessment of the built environ-ment not on a product base, but on the basis of a whole-life performance. With the recent launch of “Building Carbon Neutrality in Europe. Engaging for Concrete Solutions”, CEMBUREAU builds on these technological developments.

While moving along the value chain, the European cement industry calls for a con-certed effort of all actors to create a low carbon, circular, and competitive European construction sector.

CEMBUREAU
1040 Brussels
Belgium

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