The involvement of the steel industry will be key on the road to zero emissions and climate change

02 July 2020 | Mitigation


Energy-related emissions from the steel industry amount to approximately 2.3Gt of CO2, or in other words, 7 % of total global emissions in the energy system, according to reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, in a hypothetical scenario of "business as usual" (BaU), emissions could grow to 3.3Gt of CO2 by 2050, representing 7.5 % of global emissions in the energy system and 34% of emissions in the industrial sector.

The steel industry in Spain, as a whole, represents 4 % of the total CO2 emissions in the country. The reduction of these emissions will not be possible if new production routes based on zero carbon emissions are not developed and deployed, through radical changes in the processes. The two main possible decarbonization routes will be reduction based on the use of hydrogen and carbon capture, combined with storage or use.

The complete decarbonization of the steel industry, one of the main objectives of the European Green Deal, although complicated, is possible by 2050 with a slight impact on the prices of the final consumer and a limited cost for the economy in general.

With the aim of becoming carbon neutral, organizations should establish a roadmap to guide their path towards a zero-emission commitment. Factor Ideas for change has developed the "Guide to Carbon Neutrality: Towards a Zero Emissions Strategy", which defines the Go Zero roadmap. The roadmap consists in six steps towards zero-emissions, a holistic strategy that includes different aspects of organizations in a journey through the organization's climate governance, the identification and management of climate risks and opportunities, the calculation of the current situation, the development and establishment of real targets to achieve neutrality, the approach of reduction initiatives to achieve these targets and the commitment to zero-emissions through the development of offsetting strategies.


Steel, an opportunity in the reduction of emissions

Within the steel industry, steel represents a great opportunity to reduce GHG emissions into the atmosphere, both on the supply and on the demand side.

Recycled steel is manufactured in electric furnaces, which do not produce carbon emissions, because their electricity comes from renewable or nuclear sources. By 2018 in Spain, 66 % of steel production was already made in electric furnaces. On the other hand, the manufacture of virgin steel uses mineral iron mixed with coal, but it is also possible to clean such production. Replacing the way mineral iron is fed into the furnace by pellets, even hydrogen, could significantly reduce CO2 emissions from production.

Undoubtedly, implementing a transformation towards carbon neutrality will be a challenge for companies. However, in doing so they are responding to stakeholder and consumer demands, building new innovative business models, and increasing their capacity to manage climate risks, regulatory changes and changing market expectations.


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Mariana Viesca


Factor Ideas for change

Factor has more than 15 years of experience offering technical consulting services in the areas of climate change adaptation and mitigation, carbon footprint analysis, sustainability, circular economy, renewable energy and carbon markets, amongst other things, undertaken on behalf of governments and international organizations, as well as for over 400 companies, with more than 1,100 projects undertaken within 40+ countries.


Source: Factor