Net-Zero Scenario Outlines Ways to Decarbonize Cement Industry

Cement production facility

(Credit: Mission Possible Partnership)

by | Dec 5, 2023

Mission Partner Partnership (MPP) has developed a net zero strategy for decarbonizing the concrete and cement industry over the next 25 years as major industry players have collectively acknowledged the need to urgently act on climate goals.

The net-zero scenario outlined in MPP’s “Making Net Zero Concrete and Cement Possible” initiative involves three main requirements for complying with the 1.5-degree Celsius limit established by the Paris Agreement.

The first of these includes a 22% emissions reduction on the demand side through efficiency improvements in construction and design — in other words, reducing the amount of concrete needed in building or infrastructure design without compromising on quality or safety. Additionally, the scenario outlines a 25% reduction from the supply side, implementing the use of supplementary cementing materials that decrease the use of clinker, the material within cement most responsible for emissions. The final emissions reduction measure, totaling 53%, stems from fuel switching, power sector decarbonization, and carbon capture utilization and storage.

The roadmap includes both short-term and long-term milestones and commitments needed to meet the given targets and was developed with consideration of industry input.

Cement Industry’s Major Emission Impact, Potential Risk in Relying on Carbon Capture Technologies

The cement sector currently accounts for 8% of global carbon emissions, reportedly more than aviation and shipping combined. This impact is expected to worsen unless expedient changes are made, especially as the demand for cement is projected to grow by 50% by 2050.

According to MPP, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) has the largest emissions-saving potential of all available technologies, but the solution will have to be drastically scaled up to meet necessary emissions reductions. MPP said that 33 to 45 new CCUS plants, with the ability to remove 80 megatons of carbon annually, will need to be in operation by 2030 to meet the outlined net zero objectives.

As of now, the current pipeline of CCUS projects falls short.

According to the International Energy Agency, CCUS deployment has lagged behind expectations in the past, but some momentum has been noted in recent years. While the technology reportedly cannot be completely relied upon to meet net-zero targets at present, it may contribute to emissions reduction goals in some capacity. The agency also explains that some 500 CCUS projects are in various stages of development at present.

“Our report sets out precisely what must happen to make zero carbon concrete and cement a reality, but time is not on our side,” said Faustine Delasalle, CEO of MPP. “The moment to roll up our sleeves and work together across the value chain and with governments is now.”

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