While infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric and wind power farms are seen as tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the production process for an essential material for these projects—cement—is itself a major carbon polluter.
The cement industry is the second-largest industrial emitter of carbon after the steel industry. For cement manufacturers to lower emissions, they would have to either develop a whole new material or invest in carbon-capture systems.
To date, the industry seems to be unwilling or unable to finance the research needed to develop a low-cost, low-carbon alternative to cement. There are some researchers developing new cement formulas that use less calcium, which would lower pollution.
A carbon tax may be the best way to spur cement producers to reduce GHG emissions, some believe.