The 16th NCB International Seminar on Cement and Building Materials, held during December 3-6, 2019 at Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi, received overwhelming participation from the who's who of the cement industry. During the seminar, a panel discussion on "Changing Climate - A Threat or an Opportunity for the Cement Industryö was held on December 3.
Sumit Banerjee, Chairman, Editorial Advisory Board, Indian Cement Review, was the moderator, with distinguished panellists included: Mahendra Singhi, President-CMA, MD & CEO, Dalmia Cement (B); Vivek Agrawal, CMO, UltraTech Cement; Bimlendra Jha, MD & CEO, Ambuja Cement; Rajnish Kapur, Business Head, JK Cement; and VS Narang, Director, My Home Industries.
Giving a brief introduction on the topic, Banerjee said, "Over 195 countries agreed in 2015 to keep global temperature within 2 degree Celsius by 2100. According to the new UN report on emission gap, the current trajectory puts the world's emissions to overshoot the 2030 target by 38 per cent. Globally, 232 firms collectively worth over $6 trillion have committed to cut their carbon emissions in line with the requirements of Paris accord with consumer facing companies rather than high intensity emitters." Banerjee added,"Cement industry in India generates about 7 to 8 per cent of global CO2. The industry has made great progress in reducing the average CO2 per tonne of output, but total emissions have gone up. Realising this goal of the 2 degree Celsius, the scenario implies a significant reduction of the global direct CO2 emissions from cement manufacture by 24 per cent compared to the current levels by 2050, even as the global cement production is expected to increase by 15 to 20 per cent."
"Climate change is a direct consequence of win-win or win-lose concept. Of course it is a challenge and it is threat too," said Jha while speaking on whether climate change is an opportunity or threat for the Indian cement industry. "Steel and cement are notorious for pollution but are also providing opportunities to the industry. These industries can throw more opportunities than carbon trading."
Jha proposed that instead of carbon trading, which has a few takers. He said that we can generate something like BitCoin, which is a blockchain-based Green Coin that is tradable. It can be generated based on performance of a corporate in emitting carbon.
Jha referred to Indian mythology and said that the concept of reuse and recycle is not new to us. "It is in our DNA and nothing in our country is thrown as waste," he said. On India as a country assumed, pursuant to Paris COP21 agreement, Singhi, who was one of the business invitees from India to attend the Paris Climate Agreement Ceremony, said, "Threat or challenges are all depending on the mindset of the organisations or the people. The industry has been proactive in identifying the challenge about 10 years back. Profitability has direction with carbon footprint. Clean and green is profitable and sustainable."
"Dalmia Cement aspires to be carbon negative by 2040," said Singhi. To achieve such goals, Singhi added that the cement industry has to be energy efficient. "The industry has to replace thermal power, and by 2035, alternative fuel and raw materials (AFR) will replace coal. We need to capture CO2 and utilise it."
According to BBC, Dalmia Cement has been identified as one of the five climate defenders. He said, "In terms of meeting the targets of total emissions by the Indian industry, we should be able to achieve it ahead of time."
In the debate and negotiations on climate change between developed countries and the developing economies, the contentious argument has been on total CO2 emissions versus per capita CO2 emissions. What is India's position on this? Agrawal of UltraTech Cement responded, "India ranks 137 in per capita CO2 ranking. The United States is ahead of us by 10 times and China by five times. India has voluntarily taken a call of reducing 35 per cent of emission in terms of GDP intensity."
Agrawal gave an example of a start-up company in the U.S., which is using artificial intelligence and solar energy to produce a temperature of around 1,400 degree Celsius. Said Agrawal,"Paris agreement has to be followed in total; India's stand is that we are not a part of the problem but we would like to be part of solution."
Has anything happened so far in financial/technological support from advanced economies to enable faster mitigation of CO2/climate change? My Home Industries' Director, VS Narang said, "Algae formation technology can be developed for CO2. There has been development in non carbonated raw materials."
The investment that was planned by the developed countries has remained in developed countries so far. Noting appreciable has happened as you can see from the data available. Narang narrated a few technologies that are available and are in the process of transfer. He was of the opinion that we should not depend too much on their technology and their finances.
"There has been depletion of natural resources because of the use of soil, sand, aggregate, limestone, etc., said Kapur of JK Cement. On cement industry having an impact on sustainability, due to resource consumption and emissions, Kapur said, "cement clinker substitution occurs when clinker, the primary material used in cement manufacturing, is substituted with other cementitious materials, such as coal fly ash or blast furnace slag. The flyash and slag are not being used to the extent it should be used. There has been 62 million tonne of municipal solid waste."
Kapur said, "Alternate fuel is another area where cement industry is fully sensitised. Improving our numbers on TSR should be taken on priority."
Sumit Banerjee, Chairman, Editorial Advisory Board, Indian Cement Review, was the moderator of the panel discussion.