The president of the World Cement Association (WCA), Song Zhiping, has presented his plans for the de-carbonization of the global cement industry, taking another step in promoting the sustainable development of the sector.

Song is the founder and chairman of China National Material Group Corp. Ltd. (CNBM). He has a doctorate degree in science of management engineering. He also simultaneously serves as the chairman of the board and executive director of China National Building Material Co. Ltd., and chairman of Beijing New Building Materials Group Co., Ltd.

In a keynote speech at the World Bank’s Energy and New Climate Economy Plenary in Washington, D.C., Zhiping outlined five measures that will lead the cement industry toward low-carbon production and a carbon-neutral built environment. These include the following:

  • The use of alternative raw materials and fuels to reduce the generation of CO2.
  • The use of waste heat recovery systems and clean energy, such as solar and wind power, to cut the consumption of fossil energy.
  • Innovation and management optimisation in process, technology, and equipment to lower the energy consumption per unit production.
  • The adoption of carbon capture technology to recycle CO2.
  • The promotion of using high-grade cement, special cement, ready-mixed concrete, and cement products to reduce cement production and cut carbon intensity.

Zhiping’s speech was entitled “World Cement Industry Dedicated To Seeking Low-Carbon Development Paths.” He explained that, in 2018, 4.1 billion ton of cement was produced worldwide, generating 2.5 billion tons of CO₂. Zhiping outlined that cement is an indispensable and fundamental material that has made massive contributions to the development of human society. However, cement has a big impact on the environment and great amounts of CO₂ is emitted during its production.

To help its members mitigate CO₂ emissions and develop climate protection strategies, the association held its first Global Climate Change Forum in Paris in 2018. This resulted in the publication of the WCA Climate Change Action Plan, which acknowledges the heritage of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Cement Sustainability Initiative in addressing the climate challenge.

“The low carbon transition also creates new business opportunities and new revenue streams for the building materials sector, which should quickly be seized and deployed at scale. Further innovation efforts are required both in processes and in products. Standards and building codes have to be adapted to trigger a faster deployment of innovative solutions. Cooperation at sector level and industrial symbiosis models across sectors are crucial to help accelerate the transition. Long-term carbon risk management should also be embedded into companies’ management processes,” WCA said.

This framework enables all cement companies, including smaller firms and those in developing markets, to embrace best practice by granting them access to shared knowledge and support. It is the association’s manifesto for delivering its contribution to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, to keep the global temperature rise well below 2°.

“Since its foundation, the WCA has been standing at the forefront of the efforts to tackle climate change,” said Zhiping. “With our 72 members from 38 countries, representing an annual cement capacity of over 1 billion tons, we have the potential to affect the transformation of the industry to a low carbon economy. I urge all stakeholders to take action and adopt de-carbonization measures.”

As a global organization, the World Cement Association encourages its members to take ambitious action and believes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as tackling climate change effectively requires joint effort.

“With a membership base representing more than 1 billion tons of annual cement production capacity, the WCA and its members have the capacity to affect change in pursuing the necessary transition to a low carbon and circular economy at a global level. They stand at the forefront of the fight against climate change,” the organization said.