Key Sustainability Issues

In their 2002 Agenda for Action the CSI member companies defined a work program to proactively and systematically tackle the environmental and social impacts of cement manufacturing. They have since developed guidelines for good practice across all addressed issues and defined key performance indicators (KPIs) and measurable targets to track progress. Companies report publicly on their performance with regards to the commitments taken in the CSI, as outlined in the CSI Charter. Detailed information on each issue can be found in the relevant sections below:

In 2010, the CSI undertook a strategic review of its work program. It confirmed and expanded the scope and activities of the above issues, and it added further issues to be addressed as part of the CSI work program. These are water, biodiversity and land stewardship, as well as supply chain management. Task Forces have been formed to define and develop the work on these issues.

The CSI regularly reports on how its activities progress. In 2005, it published an Interim Report and in 2008 an online Progress Report. In June 2012, the CSI will publish a further progress report to look back at what has been achieved in the 10 years since the original Agenda for Action was issued in 2002, and to outline the further path forward into the future.

Developing technologies for a low carbon cement industry


Technology is a key pillar in the cement industry’s drive to reduce emissions levels and energy consumption. Research and development investments have enabled cement producers worldwide to install modern, energy-efficient technology in new, and to some extent, in existing, cement plants. New technologies have enabled increased use of clinker substitutes and alternative fuels in cement production, leading to significant direct (e.g. from limestone decarbonisation) COemissions reductions. Technology developments have also enabled significant indirect emissions reductions (e.g. from electricity use).

For example, global cementitious production by companies in the ‘Getting the Numbers Right’ (GNR) global cement database increased by 73.6% (from 512 to 889 million tons) between 1990 and 2014, whereas global total net COemissions increased by on 41% (from 387 to 544 million tons).

But existing technologies alone cannot reduce cement industry CO2 emissions indefinitely. Further dissemination of state-of-the-art technologies to increase thermal energy efficiency and electric energy efficiency and the use of alternative fuels including biomass as well as to reduce clinker content in cement is needed. Moreover, investment in research to develop new binding materials as well as technologies for carbon capture and storage / use (CCS/U) is indispensable. For the cement industry, this means research, development, and piloting of carbon capture technologies in cement plants.

Collaboration between stakeholders is critical to advance potential technologies from laboratory testing to full-scale dissemination. In 2009, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the WBCSD together developed a first cement industry technology roadmap based on IEA’s modeling and on 38 technology papers developed for the CSI by European Cement Research Academy (ECRA). It outlines existing and potential technologies, and how they may help the industry support a halving of global CO2 emissions across all areas of business and society. It aims to help policy-makers and financial institutions work with the cement industry to adapt for a carbon-constrained world.

In the light of the entry into force of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2016, the CSI initiated an in-depth review of the 2009 technology papers and delivered in June 2017 a compilation of 52 individual papers on well-known existing technologies (for which the latest development and implementation status is reviewed) and seven additional summary papers describing state-of-the-art and anticipated technological developments that can further enhance mitigation of CO2 emissions in cement production. The report also includes an assessment of the level of possible implementation, the challenges and costs of these technologies in future scenarios for 2030 and 2050.

The CSI and IEA plan to share the initial results of the updated global technology roadmap for the cement sector at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany.


IEA Cement Roadmap

Technology publications

Cement Technology Roadmap: Carbon emissions reductions up to 2050 (2009)

Development of State of the Art Techniques in Cement Manufacturing: Trying to Look Ahead

The Reduced Emission Oxygen Kiln (2008)

What are Scope 3 emissions?

Overview of Scopes Figure1

The GHG Standard categorizes direct and indirect emissions into three emission scopes:

  • Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions
  • Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions
  • Scope 3: Other indirect emissions

Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions from the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels (such as clinker), transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the cement company, electricity-related activities (e.g. transmission and distribution losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.


Why account for Scope 3 emissions?

Scope 3 accounting allows companies to understand the full climate change impact of their business throughout its value chain and develop more effective greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies. Companies can then develop a value chain footprint that provides an accurate picture of the total impact of a company’s activities. This information will benefit the companies themselves, as well as their suppliers, customers, and other value chain partners.

By measuring Scope 3 emissions, cement companies can:

  • Assess where the emission hotspots are in their value chain
  • Identify resource and energy risks in their value chain
  • Identify which suppliers are sustainability leaders
  • Identify cost reduction and energy-efficiency opportunities across their value chain
  • Engage suppliers and help them to implement sustainability initiatives
  • Reduce their employees’ emissions from business travel and commuting

  Scope 3 figure 2

Relevance to the cement industry

The percentage of emissions arising from Scope 3 emissions varies depending on the type of company and industry. For some companies, such as financial service companies, the percentage of emissions coming from Scope 3 will be significantly higher than those due to Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

For the cement sector, Scope 3 emissions arise from the whole value chain, including capital goods, purchased goods and services, energy-related activities and transportation/distribution. Key factors include the source of the fuels being used, the type of procurement and the amount of transport undertaken.

Cement Sector Scope 3 GHG Accounting and Reporting Guidance

Cement Sector Scope 3 GHG Accounting and Reporting Guidance

This Guidance outlines a clear and coherent approach to carrying out a scope 3 assessment and it helps cement companies to increase their understanding of its value chain emissions. It provides consistency for voluntary Scope 3 accounting and reporting in the cement industry by addressing the main CO2 and non-CO2 GHG emissions from upstream and downstream activities related to cement production.

The purpose of this Guidance is to enable comparisons of a company’s GHG emissions over time. It is not intended, at this stage, to be used for comparisons between companies based on their Scope 3 emissions although overtime a more consistent set of principles for Scope 3 emissions reporting may emerge. Differences in reported emissions may be a result of differences in inventory methodology or differences in company size or structure.


How to join the Getting the Numbers Right (GNR)?

The CSI has designed the GNR system as an open platform to encourage organizations globally to join and participate, contributing data in order to build the broadest dataset for analysis and use.

Please contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if your organization is interested in finding out more about joining the GNR system.

Are there differences between the emissions calculated for EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) purposes and those of the GNR?

Gross CO2emissions (GNR code 312a, CSI CO2 and Energy Protocol line 59) are closely related to the emissions calculated for EU ETS. However, there are small differences:

  • CSI protocol line 44 contains data on emissions from on-site vehicles. Such emissions are not included in the EU ETS calculations.
  • Sometimes defaults or nationally agreed figures are used for the carbon intensity of fuels.

These differences may be around 1% of calculated emissions.

Do gross figures refer to participants' data or are they extrapolated from the GNR participants to the total population of a region or country?

The GNR data on total emissions and total production refer to the facilities participating in the GNR. They are not adjusted to an estimate for the entire population of cement making facilities in a country or region.

Does GNR change its' "historical" data at each renewal?

Each year GNR collects data from participating companies for all years covered by GNR. This allows new participants provide historical data for their facilities. It also allows existing participants provide data for newly acquired facilities. Occasionally, participants uncover errors in their submitted data. GNR accepts such corrections as they make the information in the reports more accurate.

Why are there no report for some countries?

GNR operates within strict governance rules. These rules protect confidentiality and avoid infringement of competition regulations. To ensure confidentiality, reports are only published for regions and countries where there is an adequate number of participating companies and facilities to prevent individual company or facility data to be calculated.

What does "net emissions" mean?

In the GNR the term "net emissions" means emissions without those from fossil alternative fuel. The difference between "net" and "gross" is significant because it is a measure of the reduction in society's emissions due to the use of alternative fuels in the cement industry.

How representative are GNR data?

Global coverage is indicated for each year and it is about 23% of total cement production in the 2012 (the most dataset published). There are however regional differences with some regions, notably Europe, having a much higher coverage that is up to 94% (2012 data) of cement production represented.

Are only CSI companies represented in GNR?

No. Participation to the GNR is part of the membership committment in the CSI Charter, all CSI members are obligated to participate to GNR upon 3 years of joining.  But there are also non-CSI members participating and submitting data which are also represented in the results.

What are the charts with the statistical analysis representing?

Statistical analyses charts report the following information:

  • the x axis report the number of cement plant, clinker or cement produced; and 
  • the y axis reports a given performance indicator (such as energy efficiency or specific net CO2 emissions...).

Plants are sorted from the one with the lowest performance indicator to the one with the highest value. The chart is useful for benchmarking performance.

For instance, if one wants to find out the performance of the plants in the lowest 20%, it should look for 20% on the x axis, and then read on the curve the corresponding value on the y axis.

What is the assurance process for data reported by GNR participants?

Acquisition, processing and handling of data from CSI members must be verified by third party at least every two years (applicable to CSI members only), based on reasonable or moderate assurance level.

What are the control processes in place at system operator level to ensure the quality of data entered into the GNR database?

Data consolidated are automatically verified when uploading data into the GNR database to check their variations from one year to the next and to ensure that values reported fall between acceptable minimum and maximum values. If values appear questionable, data contributors are asked to confirm, and comment or modify the values.

What are the control processes for quality of the indicators available in GNR?

There are extensive control process in place at all levels in the GNR project:

  • Participant level: External verification is required by CSI member companies on the data collection processes used.
  • Control at upload: The collection tools used include error generation to verify -
    • if the data is incomplete;
    • if there's any information is outside specified limits;
    • if changes from year to year exceed what is normally expected within the cement industry; and
    • if specific mass or energy balances are not achieved.

Participants must correct errors or explain the unusual result before upload is accepted.

  • Data base level checks for completeness and coherence are completed by the data manager before GNR reports are generated. All staff of the data manager who have access to the actual database have signed and abide by a confidentiality agreement.
  • An internal project quality review is carried out every 3 years by the project manager.
  • GNR reports, in excel format, are checked individually by the PMC before publication. The PMC do not have access to the data base.

Email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further questions.