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Cement Industry at Risk Unless Sustainability Improves

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Cement companies across the world need to up their sustainability game according to a new report. The report, which analyses the world’s largest cement companies, finds that the industry’s worst performers face a possible earnings hit of 114% (before interest and tax). The report suggests a great deal of innovation is needed to improve the efficiency of the industry.

The report from CDP – voted no. 1 climate change research provider in 2015 by institutional investors – finds that the majority of the companies’ forward-looking emissions reductions targets are set to expire within the next few years.  With the Paris Agreement driving towards net zero emissions in mid-century, cement companies have a historic opportunity to set targets that can future-proof their business.  The cement industry is responsible for 5% of global emissions, so will need to deploy highly innovative product and process technologies, and new business models, in order to meet the Paris Agreement objectives.

Tarek Soliman, Senior Analyst, Investor Research at CDP said: “This is the first piece of major research to break down how major players in the cement industry are meeting the challenge of reducing emissions in line with the science called for by the Paris Agreement.  Cement will be a crucial building block as the Paris Agreement is put into effect, as it accounts for 5% of the world’s man-made emissions.  The results couldn’t be clearer for companies and investors: a tipping point for cement companies is not far away. 

“As carbon-related regulatory measures inevitably tighten and the carbon price signal strengthens, investors will expect both strategic and rapid changes from cement companies, including better use of currently available options as well as investment in longer–term ones, whether this be in areas such as low-carbon product development or the deployment of carbon capture, use and storage.”

Other findings from the report include:

  • The report recommends that in order to be consistent with the Paris Agreement cement companies must increase their use of alternative fuel sources, implement thermal energy efficiency measures and use decarbonized substitute materials to a much greater degree.
  • Only three companies in the report have outlined plans for reducing their emissions in line with global carbon budgets (science-based targets) and other companies’ plans are not ambitious enough.  The industry is required to take more aggressive action post-2025 and company targets need to reflect this.
  • More than 50% of cement facilities are currently located in areas of water stress and the report finds water scarcity to be a potential issue for the sector.  In particular, it poses a significant risk to two Indian cement companies, Ultratech and Shree Cement, as well as other companies operating in the country where water shortages exacerbated by climate change may restrict growth.
  • The worst performers tend to be those not supportive of climate legislation, and tightening regulation is likely to drive industry change.  For example, a strengthening of the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS) is currently being negotiated which affects at least eight of the cement companies in this report.  Even if free allowances remain and benefit the industry in the short-term, a stronger price signal is clearly likely in the mid-term, as well as deeper emissions reductions from the sector.  Those who remain behind the curve will face significant financial impacts.
  • Recent industry consolidation has the potential to improve company carbon performance, with CDP’s league table leaders merging (LafargeHolcim) with more potential to invest in industry leading performance improvements as a result.  2016 will see Heidelberg Cement acquire laggard Italcementi, meaning the latter could benefit from the former’s more carbon efficient practices.
  • Anhui Conch Cement (China), Siam Cement (Thailand), Dangote Cement (Nigeria) and Vulcan Materials (USA), which collectively represent over US$60 billion in market capitalization, did not respond to CDP’s 2015 climate change questionnaire and are therefore not included in this report.  Investors should ask these companies why they are not providing sufficient transparency on their carbon emissions.

Bernard Mathieu, Head of Sustainable Development at LafargeHolcim, said:LafargeHolcim is proud to hold the lead position in CDP’s league table, which underlines our responsibility to influence carbon performance in our sector. Our low carbon strategy, as outlined in the LafargeHolcim 2030 Plan, is aligned with the decisions made in Paris at COP 21. We are committed to continue to innovate in our products and processes and to remain the most CO2-efficient global business in our sector.”

View the executive summary of the report here.

Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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