Industry leaders ace climate audit

By Don Marsh

Three of the top five global cement, aggregate and concrete producers made the 2021 Climate Disclosure Project A List, reflecting transparency in environmental impact, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management and water resource metrics. Cemex S.A.B. de C.V., HeidelbergCement AG and Holcim AG are among 200 A List/Climate category performers from a pool of 10,000-plus companies. London-based Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) tracks them with backing from investors and government agencies who follow global GHG volumes.

The producers scored A—slightly besting the A- of Dublin-based peer CRH Plc—for responses on questionnaires probing corporate Governance; Business Strategy; Targets and Performance; Emissions Methodology, Data and Breakdown; and, Energy measures. By scoring from D- to A, CDP takes participants on a journey measuring “the comprehensiveness of disclosure, awareness and management of environmental risks and best practices associated with environmental leadership, such as setting ambitious and meaningful targets … Companies that publish their environmental data can protect their reputation, get ahead of regulation, boost their competitive advantage, uncover risks and opportunities, benchmark progress, and access lower costs of capital.”

“This important recognition underlines our global climate leadership,” said HeidelbergCement Chairman Dr. Dominik Achten upon the CDP A list release. “Implementing our carbon reduction roadmaps worldwide and heading the way globally with our ambitious carbon capture, utilization and storage plans are at the center of our climate strategy.”

“[The] A score is great recognition of progress in leading our sector’s net-zero transition in line with 2050 goals,” added Holcim CEO Jan Jenisch. “CDP rankings are a testimony to the tremendous work carried out by our 70,000 people around the world and a great encouragement for all of us to keep raising the bar.”

Along with the heavy building materials producer concentration, the CDP A list/Climate includes a handful of other brands close to or entrenched in construction, among them Komatsu Ltd., Kubota Corp., Lanxess AG, Paccar Inc. and Saint-Gobain. Already engaged in cement and concrete through its Chryso Group subsidiary, Saint-Gobain will deepen its industry footprint with the takeover of GCP Applied Technologies (note page 24). Beyond Climate, the 2021 A List recognizes top performers in Forests (24 companies) and Water Security (118 companies) categories.

“Taking the lead on environmental transparency and action is one of the most important steps businesses can make,” CDP CEO Paul Simpson contends. “Leadership from the private sector is essential for securing global ambitions for a net-zero, nature positive and equitable world. Our A List celebrates those companies who are preparing themselves to excel in the economy of the future by taking action today.”

Cemex, CRH, HeidelbergCement and Holcim share the most common thread on the 2021 A List/Climate considering the other 196 honorees’ range of businesses and operations. Their candor should not surprise an authority on global GHG sources. In the heavy industry arena, after all, cement plants have no equal when it comes to regulatory scrutiny and environmental impact reporting. At the federal level alone in the U.S., plants and their owners face oversight from multiple Environmental Protection Agency offices, along with the Departments of Energy, Interior, and Labor. 

Scrutiny continues downstream with concrete mix designs, which are partly validated by exhaustive cement mill certificates; indicated on accounting or delivery paperwork that serves as legal documents; subject to public and private customer approvals; and, where contracts require, backed by environmental product declaration figures. Little wonder that cement and concrete leaders practice transparency at the CDP/Climate class. It’s in their DNA.