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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Cement sector obstructing climate policy for ‘windfall profits’

The European cement industry is undermining climate regulations that would enable a meaningful price on carbon, and is not disclosing the financial risks such a price would bring to their companies according to InfluenceMap.

Climate policy risks profits ©Shutterstock
Climate policy risks profits ©Shutterstock

Their European Cement and Climate – A Business Risk Analysis report shows that despite publicly embracing the CO21 agreement and ambitious action to tackle climate change, the cement sector continues to oppose science-based carbon pricing.

The industry appears to have shaped the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) to suit its carbon-intensive industrial practices and avert risk to their profits, according to the report.

Carbon Market Watch senior EU policy officer, Agnes Brandt, said: “Thanks to the over-generous free allocation of pollution permits, the cement sector has made €5bn in windfall profits from the EU ETS.

“So it’s no wonder that they are lobbying hard to block any meaningful reform.

“When the high-carbon industry gets a free pass to pollute, low-carbon technologies cannot get a foothold in the market.”

After analysis of 15 industrial sectors, scores were given based on corporate engagement with climate policy, with cement the most disengaged, other than oil and gas.

Source: InfluenceMap
Source: InfluenceMap

Cement production accounts for 5% of global greenhouse emissions, with evidence showing that even with a low price on carbon, effectively implemented, the profits of the sector may be at risk.

However many companies “do not appear to be effectively communicating on regulatory risks to their investors”, according to the report.    

In addition, CEMBUREAU, the industry’s representative in Europe, have successfully weakened the ambition of climate regulation by arguing that the ‘best performers’ should not be punished.

The report states: “CEMBUREAU appears to have an active and predominantly negative engagement with climate change policy in Europe.

“When communicating on the correct response to climate change, CEMBUREAU has stressed the need to safeguard the cement sector's competitiveness in Europe.

“While the organisation recognises the need to reduce emissions, it has opposed increased ambition for short-term greenhouse gas reduction targets, and believes setting CO2 targets to 2050 is unrealistic.”

InfluenceMap and CEMBUREAU will debate these latest findings at an event in Brussels today, ahead of a crucial vote on the EU ETS in the European Parliament on December 8.

“Policymakers must ensure that cement companies pay for their pollution in order to unlock the huge potential for emission cuts in this sector,” Brandt added.