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Use of CO2 uptake in concrete for the emission reporting – NIR, UNFCCC, IPCC

Annual national greenhouse gas emissions and removals are reported by countries to national databases via the National Inventory Report (NIR) and to international databases such as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) through their operations "Greenhouse Gas Inventory".

UNFCCC formulates its own activities as: ”The ultimate objective of the Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) is to achieve "... stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." Estimating the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals is an important element of the efforts to achieve this objective.”

These databases can be used to help assess the development of the climate from a global perspective and to develop global and regional climate strategies. It is therefore important that the uptake of CO2 by carbonation in concrete and other cement-based products is included in the international emissions reporting so that accurate data on the net supply of CO2 to the atmosphere through the use of cement and concrete are obtained.

Reporting is made nationally

Calculation of greenhouse gas emissions for reporting to the UNFCCC is made by nationally appointed organizations in each reporting country. This organization can usually be reached via the national Ministry of Environment or the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) From a technical and calculation point of view and due to its complexity, it is most likely and recommended that the national CO2 uptake calculations for concrete are performed as a cooperation between the nationally appointed calculation group and the national cement and concrete industry. Guidelines for how calculations of the climate gases are to be made are determined by control documents developed by the IPCC. The control documents can be found on the IPCC website. External link, opens in new window.

The main document that regulates emission calculations and removals is 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The guideline consists of five volumes:

  • Volume 1 General Guidance and Reporting
  • Volume 2 Energy
  • Volume 3 Industrial Processes and Product Use
  • Volume 4 Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use
  • Volume 5 Waste

Energy production and processes

The applicable emission calculations are divided into those relating to energy production and those relating to processes. The emissions from a cement kiln can thus be divided into emissions from combustion (energy production) and emissions emanating from calcining the raw materials (processes). The latter CO2 emissions are classified as a process emission and regulated in Volume 3 Industrial Processes and Product Use. The CO2 uptake in concrete is strongly related to the CO2 emissions from the raw materials and it is thus proposed that the CO2 uptake be regulated in the same document (Volume 3) as the process emissions. This volume of the IPCC guidelines also includes emission and uptake in product use, which is the case for CO2 uptake in concrete products. Product use can here also include CO2 uptake in end-of-life and secondary products i.e. for example in crushed concrete.

For the present (2020), the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories have not yet been updated to include methods for calculation of CO2 uptake in concrete. Pending such an update, other sources of concrete uptake calculations may be used for the scientific reporting. This website may be such a computing resource.