Climate Action is taking action against the causes and the effects of climate change. The former is sometimes called "mitigation", the latter "adaptation".
The segment above is taken from the March 2023 announcement made by the UNFCCC the week before the publication of the IPCC's 6th Synthesis Report. This is the last such report of the IPCC until 2030...
No one knows for sure its true scale — except that it really is truly enormous and persistent!
Based on estimates, the chart depicts the rise of World industrial CO2-outputs from 1995 to 2015, with their relative amounts. Across 20 years, the relative CO2 contributions made by cement production has increased in proportion. Cement's actual totals today could now be much worse...
As a proportion of global emissions, from 1995 to 2015, material production rose from 15 to 23%. China accounted for 75% of the growth. In terms of the first use of materials, 40% of the CO2 footprint of materials is attributed to construction, and 40% to the manufacturing of machinery, vehicles and other durable products...
See, Increased CO2 footprint of materials production driven by rise in investments, Nature Geoscience 2020 (PDF here)
“If a technology is not going to reduce emissions by a lot and it's still very far away from commercialization, then maybe it's better to redirect funding to technologies that do have the potential of really drastically reducing emissions”.
Kiane de Kleijne, Radboud University (here)
EMC Volcanics reduces CO2 emissions. Some call this a "cut". Others call it "avoidance" because the emission is avoided in the first place. How? By substituting-out clinker, EMC Technology makes it a doddle to cut (or reduce) concrete's embodied CO2 from being produced in the first place.
All CO2-reduction measures (i.e., cutting CO2 emissions) outrank any CO2 removal measure. Yes, even for difficult emissions such as Portland cement production. According to the same 2021 academic piece published in the leading journal Nature:
"The seven attributes highlight the urgency of emission reductions, which need to be front-loaded, and of coverage of all emission sources, including currently difficult ones."
— The Meaning of Net Zero and How to Get It Right, Nature 2021 (PDF here)
CO2 reduction is the sole priority for meeting Net Zero's urgent needs. Simply put, Net Zero's urgency requires emission-cuts as the sole #1 Climate Action priority. This means cuts (or reduction) rather than CO2 removal, with the following as an additional upside:
"Economic model calculations have shown that front-loading climate action, paired with long-term planning over several years, is the most cost-effective way to reach a given temperature target."
EMC Technology empowers CO2 reduction—just as renewables, green hydrogen and EVs do. And, when it comes to cement, there's no good reason to not get doing this right away:
"Shifting to a net-zero system will require changes along the whole value chain, and reaching the full potential of any of these opportunities is a considerable challenge. The good news is that all can be pursued in parallel: there's no major conflicts between low-CO2 clinker production, the substitution of clinker with other materials, or changes to concrete composition, or the use of concrete in structures."
— Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions (PDF here)
"It is now set in stone that the overwhelming majority of the EU’s mitigation efforts will need to be done by reducing emissions, with carbon removal helping to go the extra mile. It is a significant milestone for climate policy design..."
Frances Wang and Mark Preston Aragonès, ClimateWorks Foundation (here)
(See also the MIT Technology Review below)
Starting point. It's simple. Cutting CO2 emissions does not mean removing CO2. No. It means not emitting CO2 in the first place. Which is why we got reminded of Benjamin Franklin's famous words. And as Prof. David Ho stated in April 2023's Nature: "Decarbonization must come first, or CO2 removal will be next to useless" (PDF here).
The diagram above? The diagram above showing how Net-Zero Climate Action is to rank is lifted from an academic piece published in the leading journal Nature in 2021 (PDF here), building on the so-called "Oxford Principles" that are taken by many as a blueprint towards effective Climate Action. That 2021 monograph, "recapitulates the scientific logic behind net zero".
Ready-to-go? The diagram above ranks the priorities for "Net Zero" from #1 to #7 (in red).
Reduction ranks #1? That's right. And so was Benjamin Franklin. Reduction's #1 (not removal). And what's more, EU legislation has said that too by limiting removals per Art.4(1) of EU Regulation 2021/1119 (here) to 225 million tonnes CO2 in total to its 2030 target – that's only 2% of the EU's overall reduction burden.
Why? In contrast to CO2 reduction (where emissions are not generated in the first place), CO2 removal requires more than a like-for-like "swap". Simply: putting a tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere, requires more than a tonne of removal to compensate for having done that (here). And, in the case of the EU, it was felt that to not limit reduction measures would have risked moving the focus away from cuts: "In order to ensure that sufficient mitigation efforts are deployed until 2030, it is appropriate to limit the contribution of net removals to the Union 2030 climate target to that level" (Recital (27) of The European Climate Law).
Net Zero as the U.N. Climate Action normal? Yes. The concept of "Net Zero" is recognised by the U.N. for the purposes of assisting the aims of the Paris Accord. It might be said that its concept is so central to Climate Action, that the Paris Accord's sole core purpose is to deliver Net Zero. However, in strict terms this is not true, because the Paris Accord does not mention the term once. In turn, a lot has been written and said already about what "Net Zero" is (and isn't). In legal terms, CO2 abatement pledges made at national levels (called NDCs) form the common requirement of all signatories to the Paris Accord, to meet the goal of effective U.N. Climate Action. Net Zero simply assists in this.
So, what does Net Zero mean? The term Net Zero means achieving a balance between the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, and the CO2 removed from it. This balance—net zero—will happen when the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed. Hence, cutting CO2 outputs (i.e., rather than emitting CO2 in the first place) becomes centre-stage crucial.
Action, not delay? Yes. There are also those for whom Net Zero is not enough. Some may believe also that Net Zero will be exploited by polluters to defer Climate Action to a later date, or that in any event Net Zero will not be met in time to prevent climate change disaster. Nonetheless, all these views agree on one "bedrock" item: switching to low CO2-output production methods, without delay.
We already have the technology to reduce cement's emissions. We're ready. Are you?
The so-called Oxford Principles (PDF)
Portland cement comprises "clinker" that is produced using a fearsome energy-intensive process that puts-out huge amounts of CO2. In contrast, EMC Technology is a low-energy process that can produce "zero-carbon" products, to replace the amount of cement clinker used in concrete. It can replace so much of it, that the potential is truly profound in Today's climate imperative.
Explaining the diagram:
The blue line represents the historical evolution from 1990 to 2018 of clinker-production CO2 yields, expressed as kgs per tonne of clinker, for the EU Member States as of 2019.
The 811kg CO2 figure is ~10% higher than the EU ETS figure, and 31kg lower than the reported 2016 average of GNR membership (see here), which itself excludes China and India. Per the chart above:
The overall target in the EU's so-called "Green Deal" is set out in Art.4(1) of The European Climate Law (Regulation 2021/1119 here). By 2030, it requires the EU's annual CO2 outputs to fall to a level less than 55% of 1990 levels. This means meeting a level that equates to 409kg CO2 per metric tonne (T) of clinker.
So here's the challenge:
Using EMC Volcanics at 55% OPC replacement, we see that requirement is met and at 70% OPC replacement it is smashed...