Commentary By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY — Greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the well-being of our planet. Governor Phil Murphy wishes to stop the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. On January 30, Governor Murphy signed legislation to incentivize decarbonization in the concrete industry. His efforts come with his ongoing pursuit of clean energy by 2050.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gases are any gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Further data shows carbon dioxide contributes 79 percent of all greenhouse gasses through burning fossil fuels, solid waste, trees, and other biological materials. Most notably, carbon dioxide is produced from certain chemical reactions during cement manufacturing.
Decarbonization reduces carbon dioxide emissions from human activities, especially from large industries. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, industrial processes accounted for 16 percent of total US carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 through burning fossil fuels and 13 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
The most significant problem in the creation of concrete is cement. Cement is made by firing many various materials in a kiln. Carbon dioxide emits when the energy used to fire the material causes a chemical reaction. Researchers at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association found that each pound of concrete produced releases 0.93 pounds of carbon dioxide in this process. Due to concrete being the second highest consumed product on Earth behind water, the immense amounts of carbon emitted will continue to grow and are frightening.
Governor Murphy’s decision to incentivize decarbonization in the concrete sector aims to lessen or eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. In his effort to do so, Governor Murphy’s bill includes incentivizing corporation business tax (CBT) and gross income tax credits for preparing environmental product declarations (EPD). EPD is the final report of a business’s life assessment cycle.
The reports required from the concrete industry assess the global warming potential of various concrete mixes and enable comparison of their environmental impacts. Further within the bill includes tax credits for delivering concrete for use in state construction and improvement projects with lower carbon emissions associated with its production.
There are many benefits of concrete. Concrete is a locally produced material shipped only short distances, benefiting the environment and saving energy. Further, according to Cement.org, vehicles that drive on concrete have statistically lower fuel consumption than those traveling on flexible asphalt pavement. Additionally, concrete requires less illumination at night, further decreasing its carbon footprint.
Despite concrete’s benefits, many argue that decarbonization is crucial to reducing the carbon footprint of concrete industries. Without lowering carbon emissions, the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise, leading to increased wildfires, longer periods of drought, and the duration and intensity of tropical storms. In 2021, Governor Murphy signed an executive order to have a reduction target of 50 percent below 2006 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Between 2005 and 2020, New Jersey has already reduced its emissions by 25 percent.
However, to achieve the state’s goals, New Jersey must have an economy-wide transformation to reduce the detrimental effects of climate change. Much of the action to reduce the carbon footprint can start with the consumers. Pick and choose which companies, industries, and groups put climate change first and prioritize the health of the Earth.
To learn more about the green concrete market, visit https://www.expertmarketresearch.com/reports/green-concrete-market.