Deals of the YEar awards
The credentials of the construction and building materials sector may not be the first to spring to mind when contemplating the fight against climate change, but regional cement leader Cemex wants that to change.
The company has set aggressive targets for decarbonization by 2030 and 2050, to align with the U.N.’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic global impacts.
“We believe that the transition to a low carbon economy is achievable. The technology to get us to our targets in 2030 already exists,” says Cemex CFO Maher Al-Haffar. “It's a matter of putting together a roadmap, developing plans and investing to get them done.”
An important component of Cemex’s strategy is the $3.25 billion sustainability-linked senior unsecured credit facility it completed in October 2021.
With the loan, Cemex became the first cement company to align with the International Capital Markets Association’s guidance for raising funds for climate transition, as well as one of the first in its industry to be validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) for its 2030 targets aligned to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The company has also joined the CFO Coalition for the Sustainable Development Goals, an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact.
The landmark loan, in the context of Cemex’s broader efforts to meet decarbonization targets, won the company the award for Sustainable Borrower of the Year.
Al-Haffar says the sustainability-linked loan serves as an example for his sector and other industries, such as chemical and steel production, where carbon emissions are considered hard to abate.
“By embracing climate action we are not only doing the right thing from the standpoint of decarbonization, we are actually increasing our profitability by reducing our dependence on fossil fuel,” he says.
This is critical for cement and other industries as the world strives to meet 2030 and 2050 targets. A January 2022 report by the McKinsey Global Institute, “The Net-Zero Transition,” estimated that the costs in the cement sector could increase by as much as 45% as it decarbonizes. Lowering that amount depends on innovation, something that Al-Haffar says Cemex has been laser-focused on throughout its history.
The company’s roadmap for 2030 has a target of 50% for alternative fuel usage, up from 30% today. “Progress on this goal should help us further reduce our carbon footprint and fuel cost,” says Al-Haffar.
He says the new loan has some of the most ambitious key performance indicators (KPIs) and that by 2030 the company wants to have 80% of its debt stack aligned with the indicators.
The KPIs focus on reducing CO2 emission, implementing renewable energy sources, and using alternative fuel sources.
Cemex is working on new products with a focus on the 2050 targets, including its proprietary technologies for clinker and carbon capture. The new technologies are aimed at reducing green-house gas emissions by more than 95% per ton of cement material compared to a 2020 baseline. The company plans to invest around $60 million annually over the decade to meet the 2030 targets.
“Cemex has been at the forefront of climate action, which it is not about talking, but doing,” says Al-Haffar. “We need to put our money where our mouth is.” LF