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California’s Cement Industry — Failing the Climate Challenge

“California Cement Industry: Failing the Climate Challenge,” was commissioned by Sierra Club California, the state-level advocacy arm of Sierra Club, and authored by Global Efficiency Intelligence, an international energy and climate technology consulting firm.

“Cement production is responsible for five percent of global carbon pollution,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California. “California’s cement factories should be among the cleanest in the world, not the dirtiest. We can and must do better.”

“This report is extremely troubling,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta, (D-Oakland).  “We’ve known about the carbon impact of the cement industry for many years, but we didn’t realize the scale of the problem in California. Inaction is not an option – and thankfully there are steps we can and will take to address this.”

The production of cement, which is a key ingredient in many forms of concrete, requires the burning of limestone — an energy-intensive process that produces carbon emissions through the burning of fuels like coal and petroleum products. The ensuing chemical conversion of limestone to “clinker,” the active ingredient in cement, also results in large amounts of “process emissions” of carbon dioxide. Taken together, cement production is one of the most polluting industrial processes on earth.

“There are a lot of things the cement industry can do to reduce its energy and process emissions, but few, if any, of California’s cement factories have undertaken any of these measures,” said Ali Hasanbeigi, the principal author of the report and CEO at Global Efficiency Intelligence. “This study benchmarked California’s cement factories against their peers, and the results are not flattering.”

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Published February 4, 2019