Cement – the solid polluter

Cement may be quietly emerging as one of the biggest obstacles to lowering carbon emissions to reduce the extent of global warming. The cement industry rarely features in media analysis of the ‘worst polluters’, but in fact the industry is responsible, because of the high energy requirements of manufacture, for more than 5% of carbon dioxide emissions. A building boom globally has fuelled demand for the material. Concrete is the second most used product on the planet, after water, so what can be done to reduce the impact of the industry on the environment?

The unheralded polluter: cement industry comes clean on its impact Guardian (12/10/07)


1. With reference to the article, identify the main external costs resulting from the production of cement.
2. Discuss the view expressed by Dimitri Paplexopoulos, managing director of Titan Cement that “.. [c]ement is needed to satisfy basic human needs, and there is no obvious substitute, so there is a trade-off between development and sustainability“.
3. Discuss policies that governments could adopt to try to move the market for cement towards a more socially optimal level of production.