Cement giant Heidelberg pledges carbon neutral concrete by 2050

Heidelberg cement headquarters
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HeidelbergCement is a multinational building materials company headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany.

The world’s fourth largest cement company pledged last week to bring its emission reduction targets in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, in a first for the industry.

HeidelbergCement, which employs some 58,000 people in 60 countries, committed to slash direct emissions by 15 percent per metric ton of its products by 2030 from 2016 levels.

The construction behemoth also committed to cut indirect emissions, for example from its electricity supply, by 65 percent a metric ton within the same time-frame.

"The commitment, which is part of the company’s wider vision to realize CO2-neutral concrete by 2050 at the latest, is a powerful signal that the built environment is transitioning towards a zero-carbon future," said Jennifer Gerholdt, corporate engagement director at We Mean Business, a coalition of companies promoting climate action.

"It’s also vital for the decarbonization of entire economies, given concrete is the most widely used man-made substance on earth, one of the hardest to decarbonize and in growing demand due to rising population and urbanization."

The cement sector accounts for around 7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Heidelberg joined the Science-Based Targets initiative, under which corporations submit their strategies for independent assessment against the 2 degrees Celsius upper global warming limit agreed in Paris.

At the United Nations climate action summit in September, 38 businesses (property developers and engineering firms included), cities and states signed up to develop net-zero buildings by 2030.

The move comes as the number of new buildings is tipped to grow in the coming years, in particular in Africa and Asia. This rapid expansion will test a 30 percent energy intensity improvement in buildings by 2030, required to put the industry on track to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, according to the IEA and UN Environment.

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