San Francisco: Reducing transition risks and creating transition opportunities are the top priorities; emissions and energy intensities directly impact the operating costs and India's Dalmia Cement aims to be carbon negative by 2040, says its Group CEO, Mahendra Singhi.
"We are creating opportunities to abate costs by investing in low carbon technologies and processes," Singhi told IANS in this California city.
The group is increasing its low-carbon product portfolio and enhancing the use of green fuels, green power and green raw material in all its 14 cement plants in India to convert transition risks into opportunities.
Singhi was here for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) that aimed to encourage and support investors in accelerating and scaling-up the actions that are critical to tackling climate change and achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The three-day major global summit ended on Friday with 4,000 plus delegates calling on national governments to join forces to step up climate action ahead of 2020, the year when global greenhouse gases need to peak and fall sharply thereafter to avoid the worst impact of climate change.
The first Indian cement company to join RE 100 and committed to 100 per cent renewable electricity use, Dalmia Cement at the summit joined the ranks of leading companies that have committed to set a science-based target.
Singhi said the major challenge is to convert the climate risks into business opportunities while sustaining business growth for the benefit of present as well as future stakeholders.
"This paradigm shift has resulted in creating new opportunities and new revenue streams."
Having been associated with Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) for 15 years and previously being the CSI Co-Chair in India, he said its member companies were the first in the world to show a sectoral approach on climate action by developing a Low Carbon Technology Roadmap in 2009.
"This was six years prior to the Paris Climate Agreement. Again in 2013, CSI member companies in India issued a country specific roadmap with 2050 target settings. Recently, in March 2018 CSI and International Energy Agency have created a revised technology roadmap of 2050 for the global cement sector."
The 2018 roadmap is more ambitious than of 2009.
Globally, one tonne of cement production emits 900 kg of carbon dioxide whereas CSI member companies have been able to reduce this to 616 kg per tonne of cement and the Indian CSI member companies further brought it down to 578 kg per tonne in 2016, Singhi said.
The Dalmia group, he said, has been able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 526 kg per tonne of cement on a group average and to 342 kg per tonne in the eastern operations.
According to the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) cement sector report in April, Dalmia Bharat has achieved the first rank in CDP's low carbon transition league.
The cement sector is the third-largest industrial energy consumer in the world, responsible for seven per cent of industrial energy use, and the second industrial emitter of carbon dioxide, with about seven per cent of global emissions.
As the global population rises and urbanisation grows, global cement production is set to increase between 12 to 23 per cent by 2050, says the International Energy Agency.
Singhi, who joined the Dalmia group from rival Shree Cement in 2013, said based on the circular economy concept and to conserve mineral resources, the company produces high blended cements with the best available technology.
"In this process, we utilise various industrial wastes such as BF slag (waste from steel industry) and fly ash (waste from thermal power plants). This has helped us in converting waste into wealth and optimisation of the clinker factor with improved material and resource efficiency," he said.
"In five years, these efforts have avoided over 17.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from our operations."
On energy efficiency, he said the company reduced electricity consumption to 72 kWh per tonne of cement as compared to global average of 90 to 100 kWh per tonne of cement.
In comparison to 2005 levels, the company has already doubled its energy productivity.
"We have been able to achieve about 20 per cent reduction in carbon intensity in five years. At the same time, our profitability has increased manifold. This proves our philosophy that clean and green is profitable and sustainable," Singhi added.
(Vishal Gulati was in San Francisco at the invitation of the Climate Trends to cover the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>)