Cement, waste and carbon markets

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The cement industry is a major contributor to climate change. The production of cement, the second most consumed product in the world after water, is one of the most energyintensive industrial processes. Although the cement companies are committed to reducing their emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, its strategies to achieve this are causing serious environmental, social and economic problems. Firstly, the cement industry has focused on replacing traditional fossil fuel with industrial, municipal, and toxic waste in most cases without adequate controls, claiming that the burning of these materials is ‘carbon-neutral’. Secondly, the cement industry has been active in the development of the European carbon market in which it has achieved a significant over-allocation of allowances for free without having to adjust and reduce emissions in any real way. In short, the cement industry has not reduced emissions as it claims and their climate strategies are an obstacle to the development of truly sustainable policies and projects in the waste sector. This report presents the false solutions of the cement industry in the fight against climate change with a special focus on Spain, where civil society is taking the lead in the reporting of cement plants’ wrongdoing. The Coordinadora Anti-incineración de Residuos en Cementeras, a network of local groups that are fighting waste incineration in cement kilns, has collected first-hand information of the many affected communities are paying the cement traps with their health and future of their economies. This information is especially relevant in the context of the debate on the reform of the EU ETS, since it points to key methodological errors that are distorting the reality of this market and shadowing the very serious impacts to communities and local economies.

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