The innovation needed for a rapid transition to net zero cannot happen without investment in new materials, business models and processes. For example, as Joshua Prentice of HeidelbergCement Sweden points out: “Two-thirds of the emissions from cement production come from the process of heating limestone. This means investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be essential for net-zero cement in the foreseeable future.”
Who should be responsible for investing in innovations such as cement manufacture with CCS? Across Sweden’s border in Brevik, Norway, the government has pledged to fund around half the cost of HeidelbergCement’s new CCS plant – the first full-scale facility in a cement plant anywhere the world. The company aims to have a full-scale CCUS cement plant running on the Swedish island of Gotland by 2030 using a similar funding arrangement. The UK, on the other hand, is lagging behind. If we are to decarbonise our high-emission cement industry, we need to act now on CCUS.
This example of equal public and private investment going into CCUS initiatives is one of the driving forces behind Sweden’s advanced position ahead of the UK. Although the UK is no longer part of the European Union, we must continue to learn from each other and share best practice to catalyse our progress towards Net Zero.
“Ultimately, net zero is a global challenge – one that countries need to meet together,” says David Symons, WSP UK’s Director of Sustainability. “WSP in the UK has committed to halving the carbon footprint of our designs and advice we give to clients over the next ten years. This is a mighty challenge for us, and we’re drawing on lessons from Sweden and other countries across Europe and around the world to helps us do it.”