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CAFA's Wrap up of the World Cement Association Conference

The World Cement Association's annual conference 2022 in Dubai brought together various stakeholders in the supply chain under the theme of “Navigating the Climate Challenge”.

Accounting for 8% of global emissions, this is a particularly important sector in working towards sustainable development, making the decarbonization of this sector a top priority. Climate-resilient construction, a pillar of adapting to climate change, will require long-lasting and concrete buildings and structures. The challenge, then, is to not only decarbonize, but to be able to decarbonize at scale and withing timelines.

While there are various technologies that are being developed and tested such as AI led plants, alternative fuels, hydrogen, LC3, and calcined clay, cement producers in the MENA region can achieve 47% CO2 reduction by reaching the EU benchmark by 2030. In fact, as demonstrated by case studies from leading companies, optimizing operational performance and product portfolios with minimum or negligible capital investment can result in a 12-15% CO2 reduction while boosting savings.

It is clear that the solutions for CO2 abatement are under development. The next obvious question that comes to mind is then that of how we can work with the existing solutions that also produce significant tried and tested results in the decarbonization of the sector. This grappling question, however, is not unique to the cement industry.

The answer though is as seemingly obvious as the question. We need the leadership and drive to implement these solutions. The average tenure of a CEO in the cement industry is 6 years, which means 2050 net-zero commitments are several CEOs down the line. The leadership that is needed, then, is one that is present both inside and outside the boardroom. It is about taking charge while also incentivising employees and creating a revolutionary thought culture in each organisation.

It is easy to get caught up in the definitions, semantics, and pragmatics of net-zero, which unfortunately also makes it very easy to displace responsibility for decarbonization. However, with each wasted day, our carbon emission budget is shrinking. We are far from being on track to achieve our climate goals and it is thus imperative to take action. To take action now, to take action together, and to action swiftly. In a room full of cement leaders, the drive to act was definitely felt and we hope to see this drive translated to action, facilitated by the World Cement Association.

As rightly said, we must think and aim for the unthinkable, but do the possible first. Tomorrow is not 2030. Tomorrow starts today


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