Why is Holcim a crime against humanity? What is the problem with cement and concrete? What is a ZAD and why is this form of action needed? Answers can be found here
We cannot afford HOLCIM.
Holcim is a Swiss group based in Zug. The Group is the second largest cement manufacturer in the world with 2300 factories in 90 states and more than 70000 employees. Holcim was created under this name in 2015 after the merger of the two cement giants Lafarge and Holcim. Holcim produces 386 million tons of cement per year. (1) Holcim is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Switzerland. (2) Holcim owns 3 cement plants, 16 gravel pits and quarries as well as 36 concrete plants in Switzerland. In addition to extreme CO2 emissions, there are thousands of other tons of non-greenhouse gases that are polluting in the air and the environment. (3)
The Geissberg belongs to the Federal Inventory of Landscapes and Natural Monuments of National Importance. The inventory specifies as the protection objectives of the area to preserve the landscape siloette. Holcim and its excavators do not fulfil this task in the slightest.
Holcim is one of the carbon majors, i.e. the companies that cause the most CO2 worldwide and fuel the climate crisis. (4) 0.16% of the greenhouse gas emissions emitted since the beginning of industrialization – that’s how much Holcim as a group is responsible. (5) This puts Holcim at about the same level as Norway and has caused more emissions than, for example, New Zealand. (6)
According to a 2020 report by Greenpeace Switzerland, Holcim is responsible for 122 cases of human rights violations and environmental crimes in 34 different countries. In two years (2016/2017), a total of 151 Holcim employees died of work injuries. In addition to catastrophic working conditions, the pollution of air, soil and water also endangers the lives of employees and the local population. Illegal mining, tax evasion, health hazards, cartel agreements, child labour and cooperation with terrorist groups – Holcim does everything for profit. When resistance forms locally, Holcim sometimes works with the corrupt police or armed motor drivers to break it.
We cannot afford CONCRETE and this building policy.
One of the main components of concrete is cement and this causes 8 percent of global CO2 emissions annually – in Switzerland it is even 9%. (7/8) If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third biggest driver of the climate crisis – after China and the USA. The output of the cement industry is greater than that of the aviation industry. But why? This is mainly due to the calcium oxide, which is needed for this. It is obtained from limestone, which consists mainly of calcium carbonate. Its combustion produces a great deal of CO2.
But these are by no means all emissions that arise in the manufacturing process. Another large part is created where limestone and other ingredients are ground and heated to 1400 degrees and finally burned into cement. These high temperatures can almost only be achieved with the use of fossil energies (e.B coal or oil). In this way, a large amount of CO2 is emitted once again. (9/10)
Efforts have been made for some time to reduce CO2 emissions in the concrete industry. Wood, clay and other plant-based materials can offer alternatives. (11) However, there is currently no building material that can reduce emissions to such an extent that it would be possible to continue building as before and still maintain our livelihoods. Therefore, it must be stopped immediately to build new buildings that do not serve the common good. For this purpose, old buildings can be converted and thus find new uses.
There are currently 71,000 empty apartments in Switzerland. (12) Nevertheless, every second one square meter more is built – often with concrete. (13) On the one hand, this is due to the fact that buildings that would actually still be intact are demolished too early. (14) On the other hand, real estate speculation also leads to more and more new buildings in which Yemen will probably never live. The real estate bubble in Switzerland is so severe that experts have been warning for years that it will soon burst. (15) But buildings are not there to make rich people even richer and stand empty, instead they should be seen again for what they actually are: as a place of life for people, as a home.
We cannot afford this system. Swiss climate policy misses any self-imposed climate target. Instead of a 20% decline, Swiss greenhouse gas emissions would only fall by 14% by 2020 compared to 1990.(16) And even if Switzerland were to achieve its own climate targets, it would not live up to its responsibility. As a rich industrialised country, Switzerland must achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. (17)
Holcim is also the best example of Switzerland’s lobbying problem. With Gerhard Pfister of the CVP/Mitte, Holcim has a lobbyist in the middle of the National Council. In 2020, Pfister was elected President of cemsuisse, the “Association of the Swiss Cement Industry”. Its Vitze President is Simon Kronenberg, holcim’s successor to CEO. (20) The new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years and fall by half in the next decade. Otherwise, a heating of more than 1.5 degrees cannot be prevented and there is a threat of climate chaos that cannot be reversed. (21)
1) Der Holcim-Report – Greenpeace 2) Kampf gegen Klimawandel: Die grössten Schweizer Klima-Sünder – Blick 3) Betrieb (admin.ch), Standorte (holcim.ch) 4) https://ejcj.orfaleacenter.ucsb.edu/who-are-the-carbon-majors/ 5) https://climateaccountability.org/pdf/SumRankingTo2017.pdf 6) Who has contributed most to global CO2 emissions? – Our World in Data 7) https://www.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/WWF_Klimaschutz_in_der_Beton-_und_Zementindustrie_WEB.pdf 8) https://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/klimasuender-zementindustrie-niemand-moechte-ein-co2-lager-im-eigenen-garten 9) Climate change: The massive CO2 emitter you may not know about – BBC News 10) https://www.fastcompany.com/90436421/the-cement-industry-is-taking-concrete-steps-to-lower-its-emissions 11) Massnahmenkatalog (climatestrike.ch) 12) https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home/statistiken/bau-wohnungswesen/wohnungen/leerwohnungen.html 13) Schweiz: Ein Land wird zugebaut | Beobachter 14) https://www.woz.ch/-b651 15) Immobilienblase: Droht der Schweiz 2021 eine Immobilienkrise? – immoverkauf24.ch 16) https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/de/home/themen/klima/inkuerze.html 17) https://grevepourlavenir.ch/site/assets/files/1877/klimanotstand_eine_wissenschaftliche_rechtfertigung.pdf 18) Nicht alle Firmen zahlen die CO2-Abgabe. Hintertür I: Das Emissionshandelssystem (daslamm.ch) 19) Der Emissionshandel schadet dem Klimaschutz – Denknetz 20) https://www.cemsuisse.ch/app/uploads/2020/09/D_2020-09-11_Mediencommunique_neuer_Pr%C3%A4sident_cemsuisse.pdf 21) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/12/greenhouse-gas-emissions-must-peak-within-4-years-says-leaked-un-report 22) https://newatlas.com/global-warming-ipcc-report/56678/