Key strategies to cut carbon emissions in cement production include improving energy efficiency, switching to lower-carbon fuels, reducing the clinker-to-cement ratio and advancing process and technology innovations.
Globally, the energy intensities of thermal energy and electricity have continued to gradually decline as dry-process kilns replace wet-process kilns, and as more efficient grinding equipment is deployed. Fossil fuels continue to provide the majority of energy in the cement sector, with alternative fuels such as biomass and waste accounting for very small portions.
Clinker is the main ingredient in cement, and the amount used is directly proportional to the CO2 emissions generated in cement manufacturing, due to both the combustion of fuels and the decomposition of limestone in the clinker production process. Use of blended cements and clinker substitutes can help reduce the clinker to cement ratio, and thus emissions.
CCUS will be crucial to reduce cement sector CO2 emissions, particularly the process emissions released during limestone calcination. While current commercial deployment of CCUS is limited, there have been a number of innovation efforts underway in recent years.
Without considerable efforts to reduce demand, annual cement production is expected to grow moderately in the coming decades. Production is likely to decline in China in the long term, but increases are anticipated in India, other developing Asian countries and Africa as these regions develop their infrastructure.
Adopting material efficiency strategies to optimise the use of cement would help reduce demand along the entire construction value chain, helping to cut CO2 emissions from cement production.
Lower cement demand can be achieved through actions such as optimising the use of cement in concrete mixes, using concrete more efficiently, minimising waste in construction, and maximising the design life of buildings and infrastructure. Material efficiency efforts have gained increasing support in recent years.
Last updated Nov 28, 2019
Direct CO2 intensity of cement in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2014-2030
More efforts are needed to reduce the direct CO2 intensity of cement production
From 2014 to 2017, the direct CO2 intensity of cement production increased 0.3% per year. To get on track with the SDS, a 0.7% annual decline is necessary to 2030. More focus is needed in a number of key areas: reducing the clinker-to-cement ratio (including through greater uptake of blended cements), deploying innovative technologies (including CCUS) and increasing uptake of alternative fuels. Governments can stimulate investment and innovation through RD&D funding and by adopting mandatory CO2 emissions reduction policies.