World's Largest Cement Firms Slow CO2 Emissions Despite Production Growth

World's Largest Cement Firms Slow CO2 Emissions Despite Production Growth

Efforts by the world's leading cement companies knocked down carbon dioxide emissions from the industry's manufacturing process by 35 percent even while production climbed by 53 percent, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Cement Sustainability Initiative.

The council's Cement Sustainability Initiative released the findings in its report, "Cement Industry Energy and CO2 Performance: 'Getting the Numbers Right,' " on Tuesday. The report represents the latest progress in an international effort to make cement production more environmentally friendly.

The group's work includes development of a CO2 accounting and reporting protocol for the industry and creation of the global Getting the Numbers Right database of energy and emissions information. The resource enables the analysis and benchmarking of industry performance. It is managed by an independent third party on an open platform.

The percentages for production growth and the absolute net reduction in CO2 emissions resulted from the analysis of available data from 1990 and 2006. The findings are significant because they indicate a growing ability to "decouple" cement production from related emissions, as a result of comprehensive measurement and management throughout the manufacturing process.

The manufacturing of cement is responsible for about 5 percent of the world's CO2 emissions. And the three largest producers in the industry are China, the top producer, followed by India and the United States. Reducing CO2 emissions in cement production is an important factor in combatting climate change because the industry is expected to double by 2030.

Eighteen global firms are currently participating in the council's initiative to make their industry cleaner and greener. They provided information for the Getting the Numbers Right database. The system is the broadest of its kind thus far in the industry and provides aggregated data on more than 800 cement facilities from 100 countries around the globe.

The system currently has data for 1990, 2000, 2005 and 2006, which primarily cover operations in Europe, North America and Latin America. It has also received 50 percent of the information needed for India. But reporting by China and the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States could be improved, project leaders said.

In June, the council released the results of the nearly 3-year-old project to identify the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the global cement industry.

More information about the Cement Sustainability Initiative is available here.

In a separate effort to reduce emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new regulations governing emissions from energy-intensive Portland cement kilns -- Portland cement is the most commonly use type of cement in the world.

A cement factory in Belgium - Image CC licensed by Jean-Pol Grandmont.