SDG 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

SDG13 addresses climate change with calls to rapidly decarbonise the global economy as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C with an ambition to keep it below 1.5°C. SDG13 also aims to strengthen global resilience to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.

Achieving the transition to a climate-neutral society will require significant research and innovation, new ways of producing and consuming, and changes in the way we work, use transport, and live together.

How the cement and concrete industry is making a positive difference

It is well known that cement manufacturing is a CO2 intensive process. The industry recognises this and the need to reduce the carbon intensity of its products to support sustainable development and mitigate the extent and impact of climate change.

Launched on behalf of its member companies, the GCCA Climate Ambition demonstrates the commitment of the industry across the globe to drive down its CO2 footprint with an aspiration to deliver carbon neutral concrete by 2050. The ambition statement represents a critical milestone for the industry. It is the first time the 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: reducing and eliminating energy-related emissions; reducing process emissions through new technologies and deployment of carbon capture; more efficient use of concrete; reusing and recycling concrete and buildings; and harnessing concrete’s ability to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

We believe it is possible to achieve this aspiration because the industry has already made important progress in reducing emissions. Since 1990, the industry has achieved a 19.2% reduction in CO2 emissions per tonne of cementitious material and delivered a more than nine-fold increase in alternative fuel substitution of conventional fossil fuels.

In addition to the climate ambition, GCCA members are required to monitor and report their CO2 and other emissions, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur dioxides, as part of the GCCA Sustainability Charter.

At the operational level, replacing fossil fuels with lower-carbon alternatives and using alternative cementitious materials in place of clinker in cement is reducing the overall carbon intensity of cement. Meanwhile, new digital technologies allow greater control of process conditions, improving the energy and material efficiency of cement production. A broad range of carbon capture research projects is also underway in the industry, while climate action is an integral part of the mission of Innovandi – the Global Cement and Concrete Research Network. R&D efforts are key to delivering sustainable and resilient building products.

The industry also supports SDG13 targets through the various beneficial sustainability characteristics of concrete.

Concrete’s strength and durability, for example, mean it has an important role to play in strengthening the resiliency and adaptive capacity of communities to climate-related and nature disasters (SDG13,1), as concrete construction is better able to survive extreme weather and other catastrophic events than other building materials. Concrete can be used to reduce the energy demand of buildings through its thermal mass properties. It also absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, reducing the lifetime carbon intensity of concrete construction. It could play a role in balancing the energy grid, allowing greater utilisation of renewable energy sources (for which it is also an integral building material), and it may also be used to help remove other air pollutants. These and other sustainability benefits of concrete are discussed in more detail on our pages on the Sustainability Value of Concrete.

Case studies

Svante, LafargeHolcim, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Total launch study for commercial-scale carbon capture and end-use at U.S. plant

HeidelbergCement takes the next step towards CO2 capture and storage (CCS) in Brevik, Norway

HeidelbergCement researching full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Canada

Vertua net-zero concrete

Titan: Accelerating our efforts for CO2 reduction

Votorantim Cimentos: Alternate fuels reduce C02 emissions

Votorantim Cimentos: Processes optimization reduces the emission of nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere

LEILAC summary report