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 May 12, 2011
Cement firms eye biodiversity, water goals after CDM disappointment

 Cement companies will look to introduce goals on water usage and biodiversity preservation, following the disappointing outcome to a plan that would have addressed carbon emissions, said the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI).  

The CSI, a collaboration of 23 cement producers under the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, submitted a proposal to the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in 2009 that aimed to reward cement producers in developing countries with carbon credits if they reduced their emissions intensity below a certain benchmark.

After 18 months of deliberations, the proposal was rejected by the CDM's Executive Board last month. The decision flies in the face of calls to scale-up climate finance and move the CDM from its project-by-project approach to one that uses standardised benchmarks and addresses entire sectors.

The Executive Board was concerned that the benchmarks were set too low, which would make it easy for plants to earn carbon credits, and disagreed on the measures to prevent 'leakage' of carbon emissions by diverting production from one plant to another. 

Howard Klee

Howard Klee, Cement Sustainability Initiative: disappointed at CDM rejection

"We are disappointed," said Howard Klee, the CSI's Geneva-based programme director, adding that work has now stopped on the proposal. "We had an opportunity to propose a different benchmark but we didn't take it," as it would have provided no incentive for cement plants to implement emissions-reduction measures, he said.

The cement industry is responsible for at least 5% of global man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the CSI says, but less than 1.5% of the 3,000 registered CDM projects are in the cement sector.

CSI members set voluntary targets for reducing emissions, but there is obviously a limit "when it starts to become painful", Klee noted. Nonetheless, the industry's most recent annual figures, for 2009, show a decrease in the emissions intensity of clinker production, from 860 to 853 kg of CO2 per tonne of clinker.

Biodiversity, water added to sustainability initiative

The CSI's original remit was to improve the industry's sustainability by addressing greenhouse gas emissions, other pollutants, employee safety, environmental impact assessments and reporting.

However, biodiversity, water and land management have recently been added to that list.

"Pretty inevitably we will start to get some data," Klee said. "How it gets converted into quantitative goals is not clear to me." The work on water and biodiversity is still at the "scoping" phase, he said.

Source: www.environmental-finance.com