175+ Civil Society Organizations Speak Out Against CBI Climate Financing Criteria


New York, NY, USA– Today, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) released a public letter signed by over 175 civil society organizations in 35+ countries denouncing the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) for considering the inclusion of burning of waste as “alternative fuels” in cement kilns (often called  waste co-incineration or co-processing in cement kilns) as part of its climate financing recommendations. If CBI moves forward as planned, millions of dollars meant for climate mitigation will prop up one of the world’s most climate-polluting industries. 

“Once again, the Climate Bonds Initiative has revealed itself as a polluting industry puppet rather than a reliable voice that can drive a rapid transition to a low carbon and climate resilient economy. We urge the CBI to take our input into account and stop providing climate-friendly credentials to waste incineration in cement kilns, which is exactly the opposite of what climate action should look like,“ says Mariel Vilella, Director of the Global Climate Program at GAIA. In January 2020, Ms. Vilella publicly resigned from CBI’s Waste Management Technical Working Group (TWG) in protest of its refusal to exclude waste incineration from its financing criteria outside the EU. 

The letter submitted to the CBI, signed by a community of scientists, practitioners in the field of waste management, policy-makers, and environmental NGOs, presents the main reasons why climate bonds should not be given to waste incineration in cement kilns:

  • Burning waste in cement kilns creates toxic pollution and climate injustice. Cement plants do not have the means to filter volatile heavy metals or persistent organic pollutants. Frontline communities (predominantly low-income communities, communities of color, and communities in the Global South) suffer the most severe impacts of cement kiln pollution. 
  • Burning waste in cement kilns would replace one form of fossil fuel with another, therefore failing to reduce GHG emissions. The type of waste cement kilns want to burn is plastic, and plastic is made of 99% fossil fuels. 
  • Giving incentives to burn waste in cement kilns will make the world more wasteful. Providing climate bonds will legitimize the cement industry’s reliance on waste-burning as a business model, perversely creating a consistent demand for waste.

The cement industry has a notorious climate footprint– 45% of all GHG emissions from the industrial sector are from making cement. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest GHG emitter in the world. 

 To be serious about reducing the GHG footprint from the cement industry, the Climate Bonds Initiative must explore financing all available low-carbon construction alternatives for cement. 

GAIA members representing communities suffering from the impacts of the cement industry have a message for CBI: “Giving climate bonds to the cement industry for co-incineration is the moral equivalent of giving awards to people who have committed a crime,” states Ricardo Navarro of Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology, El Salvador. 


Claire Arkin, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA),