The World Cement Association recently held its first-ever global climate change forum, where industry leaders and scientists discussed strategies to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. One of the world’s biggest industries (and a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions) may finally be making moves to combat climate change.

Cement is the most widely used man-made material in existence: it forms concrete when mixed with water, and is used in the construction of everything from buildings and bridges to roads and sidewalks and all kinds of other infrastructure. But while it has largely shaped the modern built environment, it’s also a massive source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It single-handedly accounts for about 7 percent of all global carbon emissions, according to estimates from the International Energy Agency. That makes it the second-largest single industrial emitter in the world, second only to the iron and steel industry.

As global population grows, some estimates suggest cement production could increase by as much as 23 percent by 2050. And some experts suggest that unless the industry substantially reduces its emissions, it could put the Paris Agreement’s global climate targets in jeopardy.

For this reason, there’s a need for new ideas on how to reduce the industry’s emissions, while showing that these new products are safe. Despite the rising interest in research and development such as the Genesis Project, there are obstacles to implement the solutions. One of these is a lack of policy incentives to convince cement manufacturers to invest in new technologies, but the global climate change forum held by the World Cement Association is definitely going to tackle this problem.

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