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Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open

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One third of the world’s carbon emissions are emitted by industry. Most industrial emissions relate to producing materials, and steel and cement are by far the most important contributors. The industries that make materials are energy-intensive, so have always been motivated to be efficient, and have now reached a fantastic level of performance. However the world’s demand for materials is growing, and likely to double by 2050. So, by default, industrial emissions will also double, unless we do something differently. This talk sets out an agenda for making a big difference to global emissions, by requiring less new material. Based on a 5 year project, with eight researchers and a consortium of 20 large industrial partners, we have gathered evidence on six ‘material efficiency’ options which allow us to provide the same final services (such as housing or transport) with significantly less material. The talk will present a series of case studies to demonstrate how these strategies can be applied in practice, and explore the actions by government, businesses and consumers that would bring them about.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society series.

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