An Open Letter to Climate Bonds Initiative: Climate Financing for False Solutions

As organizations addressing climate change around the world, we urge the Climate Bond Initiative to adopt a new approach to climate bonds for cement kilns. Rather than promoting waste burning and other ineffective adaptations that will fail to reduce the tremendous climate footprint of the cement industry, we ask Climate Bond Initiative to use its clout to develop standards for innovative, toxic-free, low-carbon construction materials and approaches as an alternative to cement.

Disappointingly, the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI) has proposed climate financing criteria for the cement industry that encourages municipal waste, including plastic, to be burned in cement kilns as an alternative fuel. However, a substitution of fuels will not solve the threat that the cement industry poses: at least half of the cement industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are released from limestone as it is heated to form the glue that holds concrete together.[1] Tinkering around the edges, like burning municipal waste as fuel, will simply not achieve the GHG reductions needed for this sector.

The climate impacts from cement production are staggering: 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide is from cement production.[2] As described in the new IPCC report, “Cement and concrete are currently overused because they are inexpensive, durable, and ubiquitous, and consumption decisions typically do not give weight to their production emissions.”[3] At the same time, the new IPCC report has given dire warnings that “the human toll of climate change is unequivocal and growing”. To be serious about reducing the greenhouse gas footprint from the cement industry, we must urgently explore all available low-carbon construction alternatives for cement. Otherwise, cement will continue to be one of the largest industrial greenhouse gas contributors.

However, the approach of certifying waste burning (especially plastic waste) in cement kilns will only deviate the building sector from the critical transformation to low-carbon building material:

  • Widespread burning of waste in cement kilns would replace one form of fossil fuel with another. Plastic is a key component of the waste stream that the cement industry seeks to burn, and 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels. The carbon footprint of plastic from extraction, production, and burning of plastic waste is essential to consider: “By 2050, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons—10-13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget.”[4] Furthermore, just as coal which has to be mined and transported to the kiln, the energy used to produce and process waste is tremendous.
  • Widespread burning of waste in cement kilns would create a “lock-in effect” for waste generation itself, thus affecting global waste reduction targets and deep decarbonization targets. The cement industry’s reliance on waste-burning as a business model will create a consistent demand for waste and therefore lock in a wasteful economy (and the climate footprint that comes with it. Widespread use of waste to fire cement kilns would perpetuate plastic production and resulting climate pollution. Furthermore, sourcing waste is an unfair business model for governments. While the economics vary, governments would likely need to provide subsidies or payments for producing or using waste-derived fuels.
  • Burning waste creates toxic pollution with the most severe impacts to the public health and environment of vulnerable communities, in a clear exacerbation of climate injustice. From communities in Cameroon,[5] India,[6] Brazil,[7] Slovenia,[8] and Mexico,[9] to Australian plastic waste exports bound for burning in Indonesia,[10] communities around the world have documented extensive pollution threats from waste burning in cement kilns. Cement plants do not have the means to filter volatile heavy metals (mercury, thallium, cadmium, etc.) present in waste, nor persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins and furans (PCDD/PCDF), which are toxic and persistent in the environment, traveling long distances and accumulating in the food chain.

It is for all these reasons that we urge the Climate Bond Initiative to adopt a new approach to the cement industry. Wholesale movement into low carbon building materials is a crucial path to ending the cement industry’s disastrous climate-forcing carbon footprint.



12 Pueblos Originarios de Tecámac 

350 Pilipinas

Abibinsroma Foundation

Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Aliansi Zero Waste Indonesia

All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh (AIKMM)

All Our Energy

Alliance for Zero Waste Indonesia

Amigos de la Tierra

Animals Are Sentient Beings Inc

Aotearoa Plastic Pollution Alliance (APPA)


Association Nigérienne des Scouts de l’Environnement (ANSEN)

Bali Waste Platform


BAN Toxics


Bay Area – System Change not Climate Change

Beyond Extreme Energy

Beyond Plastics

Bio Vision Africa (BiVA)


Blue Dalian

Bye Bye Plastic Bags

Californians Against Waste


Caminando por la justicia Atitalaquia 

Carbon Market Watch

Censat Agua Viva – Amigos de la Tierra Colombia

Centre de Recherche et d’Education pour le Développement

Changing Markets Foundation

Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG)

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition

Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls

Clean Air Coalition of Greater Ravena-Coeymans


Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (CALL)

Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco, A.C.

Colectivo Región Tolteca

Colectivo VientoSur

Colectivo Voces Ecológicas COVEC


Consumers’ Association of Penang


Deer Park Institute

Dibeen for Environmental Development

Dovesdale Action Group

Downwinders at Risk

Earth Ethics, Inc

Eco Sitio

Ecology Center



Ecowaste Coalition of the Philippines

Eko krog

Ekologi brez meja

Environics Trust

Environment and Social Development Organization

Environmental Defence Canada

Environmental Education Center (PPLH Bali)

Environmental Protection Society Malaysia

Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area

Florida Rising

Food Empowerment Project

Frente de Comunidades Unidas de Tizayuca 

FreshWater Accountability Project

Friends of the Earth U.S.

Friends Of The Earth Slovakia

fundacion Aguaclara

Fundación Apaztle

Fundación El Árbol

fundación Lenga

Fundación para la defensa del ambiente (FUNAM)


Gallifrey Foundation

Gita Pertiwi

Grassroots Environmental Education


Green Knowledge Foundation

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Greenpeace USA

GreenRoots, Inc

Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart

Grupo Atotonilli

Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia

Health Environment and Climate Action Foundation (HECAF360)


Humusz Szövetség

Indonesian Center for Environmental Law

Inland Ocean Coalition

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Instituto ATEMIS Brasil

Instituto Pólis 

International Rivers

Kagad Kach Parta Kashtakari Panchayat

Khanchendzonga Conservation Committee KCC

Korea Zero Waste Movement Network

KRuHA – people’s coalition for the right to water


Living Laudato Si’ Philippines

Locust Point Community Garden

Long Island Progressive Coalition

M H K Electrical


Methane Action

Midlothian Breathe

Montana Environmental Information Center

Mother Earth Foundation Philippines Hoboken

Nagrik Chetna Manch

Nexus3 Foundation

NGO Forum on ADB


North american Climate, Conservation and Environment(NACCE)

North Range Concerned Citizens

Núcleo Alter-Nativas de Produção da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

Pan African Vision for the Environment (PAVE)

Pelican foundation

Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Plataforma antiincineracion de Montcada I Reixac 

Pragya Seeds Nepal

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada


RAPAL Uruguay

Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales RADA

Red Regional de Sistemas Comunitarios y Comités por la Defensa del Agua ( la Escuelita del Agua) .

Réseau Action Climat

Revista Brújula MX

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia)

Sahabat Laut (Friends of the Sea)

Sistema de Agua Potable de Tecámac Estado de México, AC?

Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York

Society for Wetland Biodiversity Conservation Nepal

Solar Wind Works

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance

Stree Mukti Sanghatana

Sunflower Alliance

Surfrider Foundation

Sustainable Environment Development Initiative

Sustainable Thornton Heath


Taller Ecologista

Terra Advocati

The Corner House

The Indonesia Plastic Bag Diet Movement – Gerakan Indonesia Diet Kantong Plastik

The Last Beach Cleanup

The Last Plastic Straw

The People’s Justice Council

Trash Hero Indonesia

Turtle Island Restoration Network

United Kingdom Without Incineration Network (UKWIN)

Valley Watch, Inc.

VšĮ “Žiedinė ekonomika”

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) / Friends of the Earth Indonesia

WALHI Jawa Barat

WALHI North Sumatra

Waterway Advocates

West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs

Westchester Allliance for Sustainable Solutions

Woman And Child Development Organization (APARAJITA)

WomanHealth Philippines

Work on Waste USA (AEHSP)

Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB)

Za Zemiata – Friends of the Earth Bulgaria

ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

Zero Waste Association of South Africa

Zero Waste Europe

Zero Waste France

Zero Waste Ithaca

Zero Waste Latvija

Zero Waste Montenegro

Zero Waste North West

Zero Waste USA

Zero Waste Washington


Alida Naufalia, YPBB

Ann Fahey

Babet de Groot, University of Sydney

Carole Shorney

Chitra Agarwal

Christine Primomo, Clean Air Coalition of Greater Ravena Coeymans

Claudia Marquez

Colin Vettier

Consuelo Infante

Desmond Alugnoa, Green Africa Youth Organization

Dr. Katie Conlon

Edward Swayze, TC Democratic Committee, Zero Waste Ithaca

Héctor Cordero

Ian Morris, Sustainable Thornton Heath

Jane Leggett, Stop the Edmonton Incinerator

Jean Ross, Vote Climate

John alder, build back better

Jorge Daniel Hernandez

José Arquimidez Aguilar Rodríguez

Karl Held, The Climate Mobilization, Montgomery County MD Chapter

Laura Haider, Fresnans Against Fracking

Lauriane Veillard, Zero Waste Europe

Lisa Ross, Zero Waste Columbia

Louise Krzan

Maeve Tomlinson

Maeve Tomlinson

Mai The Toan, Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment

Marco Ramirez navarro

María Merced  González

Marie Hallwirth, Zero Waste Austria

Maritza mendoza, GreenLatinos

Mark Webb

Martin Franklin

Melly Amalia, Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB)

Moniva Rosas

Navin Rao, Birla Institute of Management Technology

Parus Shah

Patrice Gallagher, Frederick Zero Waste Alliance

Paty Gonzalez

Prashant Vaze , Senior Fellow of Climate Bonds Initiative

Prerana Dangol, HECAF 360

Pushpan Murugiah

René Romero

Riikka Yliluoma, Climate Strategies Lab

Rosi Martínez

Sangeetha Pradeep, Thanal

Sher Zaman, Democratic Commission for Human Development

Shrawasti Karmacharya, HECAF360

Shyamala Mani, Public Health Foundation of India and National Institute of Urba

Sikshu Dewan Sikshu ESPAY

Sister Joan Agro, Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York

Sophia Mahoney-Rohrl, Sunrise Bay Area

Souleymane OUATTARA, Climate Action Network West and Central Africa

STEPHANIE SUSSMAN, Zero Waste Columbia

Susan Park, University of Sydney

Suzannah Glidden, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE)

Sydney Charles

Xuan Quach, Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance

[1] NRDC (2022), Cut Carbon and Toxic Pollution, Make Cement Clean and Green,
[2] BBC (2018), Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about,
[3] IPCC (2022), Sixth Assessment Report, Chapter 11 – Industry, p 7,
[4] CIEL (2019), Plastic and Climate, p 1,
[5] Greenpeace Switzerland (2010), HolcimReport: A scandal research,
[6] Greenpeace Switzerland (2010)
[7] Greenpeace Switzerland (2010)
[8] Goldman Prize (2017), 2017 Goldman Prize Winner Uroš Macerl,
[9] Zero Waste Europe (2017), In Mexico: time to end ‘sacrifice zones,’
[10] Nexus3 and IPEN (2022), Refuse-Derived Fuel In Indonesia,