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The big problem with cement, and how to fix it

Concrete emits a ton of carbon. Here’s how we get it to net zero.

Laura Bult came to the video team via Vox’s Netflix show, Explained , and previously worked on documentary series for National Geographic and Zero Point Zero Production.

Cement accounts for 8 percent of our global carbon emissions. It’s also an incredibly difficult material to do without: It’s the glue that holds together the rock, sand, and water in concrete. And concrete is the building block of the world: It’s in our buildings, our streets, our sidewalks, and our infrastructure. Aside from water, there’s no material on Earth we use more of.

In order to get to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, we’ll have to address how we build and how we make cement. Because cement production is so closely linked to urbanization and development, China accounts for a vast majority of today’s cement-related emissions. Other countries with more development in their future will need to emit more to produce cement, too. All that means the whole world needs to figure out how to create cement without the emissions. This video goes into the steps developed by researchers for how to get there.

You can find this video and the entire library of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

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