The goal of nations signing the Paris Agreement was to limit incremental global warming to 1.5/2 degrees up to the end of current century. The signs are, that the signing of the Paris Agreement have failed to motivate the nations enough, such that we may be on our way to a doubly disastrous 3 degrees rise in climate temperatures based on current trends of performance of nations. At least, this is what the United Nations Environment Program said, in its flagship report, aptly titled "The Emission Gap", which was released recently. The report refers to the difference between the actual emissions vs the ambitions of each country expressed in "Nationally Determined Contributions", as the so called emission gap, and goes on to add that for the global warming targets of the year 2100 to be achieved, this "gap" has to be closed by the year 2030, through additional efforts.
This is not good news for the environment nor for the coming generations, and clearly comes as a strong warning to nations, or a clarion call, if we may say, for urgent and substantive action. As of 2017, the G-20 countries, of which India is a part, contributes 78 per cent of the global emissions, India's share being 7 per cent, as of 2017, as against China and USA contributing 27 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. Moving from nations to industries, the obvious question that crops up is, how are the cement companies performing? The question is relevant not just because we are especially concerned here with the Cement Sector, but also because cement is simply the second largest industrial contributor of greenhouse gases, notching up up to 6-7 per cent of global CO2 emissions. The sector's global contribution is almost equal to that of India's!
In order to evaluate the performance of the cement industry, we fall back on another report, that by CDR (a highly reputed climate change analyst organisation) aptly titled "Building Pressure", in which they analyse the top 13 publicly listed cement companies of the world. This report reveals that the cement industry needs to double their emission reduction efforts to be able to play their rightful role in helping the world achieve its climate targets. In summary, while the nations are failing us in our fight to push back climate change, the various industry sectors are not exactly covering themselves in glory, either.
The good news is that the Indian cement companies are at the top of the chart, with superlative numbers of specific CO2 emissions per tonne of cement produced, driven by high proportion of blended cement, which in turn has been aided by relative ease of availability of fly ash and slag. To add to this information, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)'s Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) in India has recently launched its Status Review 2018 report. Results from this study show a 5 per cent reduction in direct CO2 emission intensity compared to the 2010 baseline. Alternative fuel use as reflected in Thermal Substitution Rate (TSR) has increased by five times from 2010 to 2017, with the sector absorbing more than 1.2 million tonnes of alternative fuels in 2017. We quote happily from this report, "By adopting state-of-the-art technological interventions, innovative production techniques and climate-resilient resource optimisation measures, cement manufacturers in India are integrating sustainability within their growth aspirations. The sector is now being recognised globally as one of the most energy-efficient and sustainable markets for cement".
We can be justifiably proud that the Indian cement industry is playing a responsible and rightful role consistent with its global position of being the second largest, and is making significant contributions to help bridge the so-called "Emission Gap".
Sumit Banerjee Chairman, Editorial Advisory Board