Shree Cement steps up ambition on sustainable constructionThe We Mean Business coalition
One of India’s leading cement producers, Shree Cement, has stepped up its ambition to tackle climate change by committing to set a science-based target to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in line with what the climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
This latest bold climate commitment from a construction materials company, along with a raft of other company commitments, signals the direction of travel not only for the cement industry, but for the entire built environment – ultimately helping to lay the foundations for the zero-carbon economy by mid-century.
With a cement production capacity of 35 million tons per annum across six states, Shree is among the top three producers in India and one of the country’s largest 100 companies in terms of market cap.
“It is our constant endeavour and an ongoing pursuit to find ways and means towards sustainable development, optimal utilisation of resources and minimising our carbon footprint,” Mr. Prakash Narayan Chhangani, Whole Time Director of Shree Cement, said in the company’s annual report.
In addition to the company’s commitment to science-based targets, Shree Cement is also a member of the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Two other leading Indian cement producers, Dalmia Cement and Ambuja Cement, have also committed to setting a science-based target, while India’s UltraTech Cement is a member of the LCPTi and committed to smart energy use with EP100, led by The Climate Group.
Powerful signal of change
These commitments send a powerful signal to the construction industry, urban planners and the end-users of buildings, that cutting GHG emissions from cement is possible and will ultimately help deliver the zero-carbon built environment of the future.
Three Indian real estate developers: Mahindra Lifespaces Developers, Mahindra World City Developers and Mahindra World City (Jaipur) are all committed to science-based targets as well, underlining the growing demand for low-carbon construction materials.
These companies form part of the larger Mahindra Group, which CEO Anand Mahindra last year committed to being carbon neutral by 2040. The group also includes the first steel company with an approved science-based target – Mahindra Sanyo Special Steel.
Together the actions of these companies are helping encourage city planners and policy makers to go further and faster, by raising their ambition on climate action.
Already five of India’s largest cities are part of the C40 network, including Delhi, Chennai and Jaipur, which are helping to drive demand for low-carbon construction.
Outside of India, some 22 cities so far from Cape Town to Tokyo have committed to the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, launched last year. This will require them to enact regulations and planning policies, to ensure that all new buildings within their jurisdiction are operating at net-zero carbon from 2030; and all buildings, including existing buildings, to operate at net-zero carbon by 2050. Some 12 companies and four states and regions have also signed up to this commitment.
In India, the Kochi Municipal Corporation (KMC) has partnered with World Resources Institute India (WRI India) to develop a roadmap and action plan for all buildings to achieve zero carbon potential for Kochi city.
Net-zero emissions is possible
As the Energy Transitions Commission report Mission Possible demonstrates, reaching net-zero emissions from the heavy emitting sectors of cement and steel is possible by mid-century, helping to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The report lays out a suite of tactics for cutting emissions from construction, including demand management, energy efficiency and decarbonisation technologies.
Emissions from the production of cement come mainly from the energy used for heating kilns and the chemical processes that convert limestone into calcium oxide. The key actions cement companies can take are to:
- Improve energy efficiency: 20 possible technologies (including retrofits) and measures together could deliver 10% energy savings on the typical thermal cement production process (most with a 2- year payback period).
- Change the fuel for heat: The heat needed to produce clinker makes up 35% of emissions from cement production. This can be reduced in the short term by switching from coal to gas. Longer term, cement companies can explore increasing the use of waste or biomass as a fuel (which requires only a modest retrofit to existing kilns); replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen (which requires furnace redesign) and switching to electricity as the heat source.