Steel coalition calls for emissions standard that ignores production process

Article by Adam Duckett

A COALITION of steelmakers has called for a global process-agnostic emissions standard, warning that planned proposals could see higher-emission steel erroneously labelled as “green”.

As the US and EU negotiate a new emissions standard for steel production, the new partnership – called the Global Steel Climate Council – has warned that a sliding-scale standard supported by high-emission steelmakers would set standards ceilings up to nine times higher for extractive versus recycled products. It says this would punish producers that recycle steel using electric arc furnaces by permitting higher-emission steel produced using virgin resources in blast furnaces to be labelled as “green”.

The council, whose members include steelmakers Celsa Group, Nucor and Liberty Steel, want to establish a standard that focuses on the emissions produced, ignores the process used, and draws a system boundary that includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

A study of US steelmakers published earlier this year by the consultancy CRU found that scope 1 and 2 emissions from electric arc furnaces are 78% lower than from blast furnaces. It found that US steel production is around 37% less carbon intensive than Europe due to the higher proportion of electric arc furnace supply in the US (70%) compared to 46% in the EU.

Last month, the UK’s Energy Systems Catapult warned that inconsistencies in carbon accounting are making it difficult to achieve meaningful decarbonisation across industries and makes mechanisms vulnerable to “greenwashing”.

Philip Bell, President of the Steel Manufacturers Association, which is a founding member of the Global Steel Climate Council, said: “The GSCC single standard will encourage all producers to reduce their carbon emissions and create a level playing field for all manufacturers. The US-EU negotiations should not create a double standard and a slippery slope toward a dirtier environment. We can do better.”

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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