Zero carbon tech for building materials gets $12 billion commitment at COP27

An aluminium clad building facade to illustrate the importance of zero carbon tech in buildingsThe World Economic Forum and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate announced today at COP27, the expansion of a coalition of global companies, to commit $12 billion in 2030 purchase commitments for zero carbon and green technologies to decarbonise the cement and concrete industry and other hard-to-abate sectors. The latest expansion of the First Movers Coalition – made up of 65 companies with a collective market value of approximately $8 trillion – focuses on cleaning up one of the world’s most carbon-intensive industry sectors through purchasing commitments for low-carbon technology. From construction and engineering to real estate and developers, newly announced First Mover companies have committed to purchasing at least 10 percent near-zero cement and concrete per year by 2030. 

“Cement is the second most consumed product globally after potable water, and the demand signal that top companies have set today for near-zero concrete will drive critical investment in next-generation technologies,” said John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. “I am also delighted with the increased commitments we have announced across our existing long-distance transport, heavy industry and carbon removal sectors. This unprecedented $12 billion dollar demand signal will bring competitive technologies to market this decade that are needed to decarbonize so-called ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors of the global economy.”

Kerry announced the expansion of the First Movers Coalition alongside Brad Smith, President and Vice-Chair of Microsoft, Mads Nipper, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted, and Fernando González, Chief Executive Officer of CEMEX. Founding coalition members of the cement and concrete sector are General Motors, Vattenfall, ETEX, Ørsted and RMZ Corporation.

“First Movers Coalition companies are paving the way for the decarbonisation of our industries through disruptive innovations across seven of the hardest-to-abate sectors. The cement and concrete sector is the latest addition to this effort, creating the early markets needed to scale innovative green and zero carbon technologies. We are thrilled to see government partners join in this effort to ensure a net-zero transition that is truly global,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

Since the Coalition’s launch in 2021, companies that make up the First Movers Coalition have made advance purchase commitments by 2030 for near-zero carbon steel, aluminium, shipping, trucking, aviation, carbon dioxide removal solutions and now cement and concrete.

Recently joined First Movers Coalition members are: Autodesk (aviation), Bang & Olufsen (aluminium), Constellium (aluminium), Emirates Global Aluminium (carbon removal technologies), ETEX (cement and concrete), General Motors (cement and concrete), Hoegh Autoliners (shipping), PepsiCo (aluminium, trucking), Rio Tinto (aviation, shipping and trucking) and RMZ Corp (cement and concrete).

According to experts, the critical climate target of 1.5ºC can only be reached if new decarbonising technologies are quickly developed. Demand signals today for innovative green technologies by 2030 will ensure that innovative green solutions are invested in and scaled in this decade.

Progress by First Movers Coalition members to meet these ambitious targets include:

  • Aluminium:
    • Apple, aluminium sector champion, purchased the first batch of commercial-purity, direct carbon-free aluminium this year following a significant advancement it supported in developing smelting technology that produces oxygen instead of greenhouse gases. The aluminium is the first to be manufactured at an industrial scale outside a laboratory and will be used in Apple products. By switching to recycled and low carbon aluminium, Apple’s carbon emissions associated with the material have decreased by 68 percent since 2015.
    • Ball Corporation partnered with fellow members RioTinto and Novelis, as well as AB Inev, to manufacture Canada’s first low-carbon beverage can for Corona beer. The cans used low-carbon primary aluminium produced with inert anode technology and carbon-free hydropower, as well as recycled material ingot, which reduce carbon emissions of the aluminium can sheet by more than 30 percent.
    • Ford Motor Company and Rio Tinto signed an MoU for battery and low carbon materials supply for use in Ford vehicles, including metal produced using zero carbon smelting technology and from Rio Tinto’s hydro-powered operations in Canada.
  • Aviation: Delta has signed over half of the offtake agreements needed to achieve its coalition commitment, including an offtake deal with DG fuels for 55 million gallons of FT SAF per year from 2027 through 2033.
  • Steel: Volvo has introduced fossil-free steel into its production line of heavy-duty electric trucks and will deliver the first batch of 20 trucks to fellow coalition member Amazon in Germany by the end of 2022.
  • Steel and trucking: Scania is producing trucks with fossil-free steel and plans to fully shift its steel purchases in Europe to this standard by 2030. Additionally, it will implement electric heavy-duty vehicles in three transport flows by the end of 2022.
  • Trucking
    • CEMEX is developing the first full-sized, fully electric concrete mixer in Europe in collaboration with Volvo, and recently commissioned 10 such vehicles.
    • Holcim recently achieved its first successful purchase orders with fellow coalition member Volvo as part of plans to deploy thousands of zero-emissions vehicles across its business over the next few years.

In addition, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has announced that they will host a series of First Movers Coalition Business Seminars with companies seeking financing for priority projects in developing markets. The seminars will provide companies with information on the many tools and resources available from the U.S. Government including loans, insurance, technical assistance, and market intelligence.

The First Movers Coalition was launched by US President Biden and the World Economic Forum at COP26 to decarbonise heavy industry and the long-distance transport sectors responsible for more than one-third of global emissions. The global initiative, made up of 65 companies, works to harness the purchasing power of companies to decarbonise seven hard-to-abate industrial sectors that currently account for 30 percent of global emissions: aluminium, aviation, chemicals, concrete, shipping, steel and trucking, along with innovative carbon removal technologies.