The European Union’s (EU) verified CO2 emissions figures were released earlier this week on 1 April 2019. The good news is that no cement plant is within the top 100 largest emitters. All the top spots are held by power plants, iron and steel producers and the odd airline. Indeed, out of all of the verified emissions, cement clinker or lime production only represents 7% of the total emissions. Of course this is too much if the region wants to meet its climate change commitments but it is worth remembering that other industries have a long way to go as well and they don’t necessarily face the intrinsic process challenges that clinker production has. If the general public or governments are serious about cutting CO2 emissions then they might consider, for example, taking fewer flights with airlines before picking on the cement industry.
The EU emitted 117Mt of CO2 from its clinker and lime producers in 2018, a 2.7% year-on-year decrease compared to 120Mt in 2017. This compares to 158Mt in 2008, giving a 26% drop in emissions over the decade to 2018. However, there are two warnings attached to this data. First, there are plants on this list that have closed between 2008 and 2018. Second, there are plants that provided no data in 2018, for example, all the plants in Bulgaria. Climate change think tank Sandbag helpfully pointed out in its analysis of the EU emissions data that industrial emissions have barely decreased since 2012. The implication here being that the drop from 2008 to 2012 was mainly due to the economic recession. Sandbag also made the assertion that 96% of the cement industry’s emissions were covered by free allocations in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) thereby de-incentivising sector willingness to decarbonise.
By country the emissions in 2018 from cement and lime roughly correspond with production capacity, although this comes with the caveat that emissions link to actual production not potential capacity. So, Germany leads followed by Spain, Italy, Poland and France. Of these Poland is a slight outlier, as will be seen below.
|Plant||Company||Country||CO2 Emissions (Mt)
|Górazdze Plant||Górazdze Cement (Heidelberg Cement)||Poland||2.73|
|Rørdal Plant||Aalborg Portland Cement||Denmark||2.19|
|Ozarów Plant||Grupa Ozarow (CRH)||Poland||2.01|
|Slite Plant||Cementa (HeidelbergCement)||Sweden||1.74|
|Kamari Plant||Titan Cement||Greece||1.7|
|Warta Plant||Cementownia Warta||Poland||1.55|
|Volos Plant||Heracles General Cement (LafargeHolcim)||Greece||1.27|
|Vassiliko Cement Plant||Vassiliko Cement||Cyprus||1.21|
|Małogoszcz Plant||Lafarge Cement Polska (LafargeHolcim)||Poland||1.18|
|Kujawy w Blelawach Plant||Lafarge Cement Polska (LafargeHolcim)||Poland||1.15|
Table 1: Top 10 CO2 emitting plants in the European Union in 2018. Source: European Commission.
Poland leads the count in the top 10 EU CO2 emitting cement plants in 2018 with five plants. Greece follows with two plants. This list is deceptive as all of these plants are large ones with production capacities of 2Mt/yr and above. As it contains many of the largest plants in the EU no wonder the emissions are the highest. It is also worth considering that there are far larger plants outside of the EU.
In summary, as most readers will already know, the cement industry is a significant minority CO2 emitter in the EU. Countries with larger cement sectors emit more CO2 as do larger plants. So far, so obvious. Emissions are down since 2008 but this mostly seems to have stalled since 2012, bar a blip in 2017. The change though has been the rising carbon price in the EU ETS in 2018. Coincidentally the carbon price has been fairly low and stable since 2012. If the mechanism is working properly then changes should start to appear in 2019. Already in 2018 a few European cement producers announced plant closures and blamed the carbon price. Watch this space.