On September 23, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that directly targets greenhouse gas emissions associated with the cement industry. This cement decarbonization legislation is the first law of its kind in the country and aims to achieve zero net emissions from the industry by the end of 2045.
The legislation on the decarbonization of cement (Senate Bill 596) requires the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) to enact a comprehensive strategy to achieve net zero emissions from California cement manufacturing as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2045. The legislation imposes several targets, including a 40% reduction from 2019 levels by July 1, 2035. However, the law requires CARB to assess the feasibility of interim targets by July 1, 2028 and possibly adjust them.
The cement decarbonization law also requires CARB to:
- Define a measure of the intensity of greenhouse gases;
- Monitor emissions data;
- Establish a baseline against which to measure progress in reducing emissions;
- And assess measures to support market demand and financial incentives to encourage the production and use of low carbon cement.
The legislation comes into effect on January 1, 2022. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Becker, is also working on additional Senate legislation (Bill 778) that would add low-carbon concrete to the Buy Clean Act of government, thus helping to increase demand for low-carbon cement produced under the new legislation.
California is the forerunner in decarbonization of the cement industry, which is the first industry directly targeted by the state for mandatory decarbonization. Global cement production accounts for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions and in California alone, cement contributes around 8 million metric tonnes of CO.2 each year, equivalent to the emissions of 1.7 million cars. Cement production is considered the second industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions in California, behind the oil and gas sector. California is likely leading the way in passing similar national legislation. To ensure a feasible and fair precedent for the national decarbonization policy, the cement industry and infrastructure-wide cement users should advocate before the CARB as it develops the initial ‘global strategy’ in the enactment. adjustments in emission targets, and should play an active role in national legislative processes and regulations.