This Everyday Material is the Third Largest CO2 Emitter in the World

New reports show surprising numbers behind one of our preferred building materials.

New reports show a surprising everyday material accounts for about 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. The material in question? Cement.

The report, presented by a think tank called Chatham House, paints a new public picture of a material used heavily in our structures, which saw a rise in usage after World War II, where everything from schools and parking lots, to houses and roads were built with concrete as a primary material. According to the BBC, the findings predict that “if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world – behind China and the U.S.” However the report also notes that the main producer of cement is China.

Last week’s United Nations climate change conference, COP24, saw cement industry leaders present at the table, as they make commitments to address their responsibility in CO2 emissions and the actions they can take for their industry to adhere to the Paris Agreement. The sustainability conscious sector of the cement industry is called the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) and represents around 35% of the world’s cement production. One of their aims coming out of the COP24 is to create a set of sustainability guidelines for its members to follow.

As chief executive Benjamin Sporton said, the foundation of the GCCA “is a demonstration of the commitment of the industry to sustainability, including taking action on climate change”.

What this means for the future of our developments and architectures is yet to be seen, but with a new opportunity for a sustainable challenge, we are sure to see some exciting proposals to pivot away from cement and into a greener future.

Featured image: Selvika National Tourist Route by Reiulf Ramstad (Finnmark, Norway)