A shocking 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission come from cement production, leading environmentalists to shine a spotlight on the industry’s practices.
The problem with cement is fundamental. The heat and chemistry that goes into making it inherently releases carbon dioxide, such that for every ton of cement created a ton of carbon dioxide is produced. That’s a major issue as cement production has already quadrupled over the past 30 years, and demand is anticipated to continue increasing thanks to explosive growth in many Asian countries.
As The Guardian argues, the cement industry is well aware of its carbon emission problem. But even though alternative building materials are available, including recycled materials like steel slag and fly ash, the industry is reluctant to budge from the profit-making status quo. Instead of changing the method of production or the materials used in buildings, cement makers point to carbon capture and storage – an emissions reduction technology that has hit repeated setbacks.
Another solution? A global cement tax. With such a tax, revenues could be used as rebates for increases in energy costs, so the effect of the tax is limited to the cement industry.
In fact, several European countries and numerous cities have already implemented some form of cement tax with great success. Alone, those taxes are estimated to have reduced global carbon emissions from cement production by as much as 20%.
How the cement industry will respond to increasing environmental pressure remains unclear. But as global emissions from cement continue to rise, it’s a likely bet that more and more cities and countries will take note of the environmental cost of this pervasive construction material.