The big problem with cement, and how to fix it

From Vox.

Concrete emits a ton of carbon. Here’s how we get it to net-zero.

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Cement accounts for 8 percent of our global carbon emissions. It’s also an incredibly difficult material to do without: It’s the glue that holds together the rock, sand, and water in concrete. And concrete is the building block of the world: It’s in our buildings, our streets, our sidewalks, and our infrastructure. Aside from water, there’s no material on earth we use more of.

In order to get to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, we’ll have to address how we build and how we make cement. Because cement production is so closely linked to urbanization and development, China accounts for a vast majority of today’s cement-related emissions. Other countries with more development in their future will need to emit more emissions to produce cement, too. All that means the whole world needs to figure out how to create cement without the emissions. This video goes into the steps developed by researchers for how to get there.

Note: The headline on this piece has been updated.
Previous headline: Why cement is so bad for the climate

Further reading:

Here is a link to the Nature article that we based our key visual on. Two of the co-authors, Paul Fennell and Chris Bataille, appear in the video:

I interviewed Brian Potter, who wrote this great article on how much concrete we consume:

Hannah Ritchie from Our World in Data wrote a great Substack clarifying the data on China’s cement emissions:

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