Steel industry set to more than triple its carbon footprint by 2050

Bloomberg Mumbai | Updated on February 04, 2020

India’s steel industry is set to more than triple its carbon footprint by 2050 as demand for the metal in the worlds second-biggest producer soars.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry are projected to jump to 837 million tonnes over the next three decades from 242 million tonnes now as India’s demand for steel more than quadruples to about 490 million tonnes, The Energy and Resources Institute said in a report. It will also contribute more than a third of the nations total fossil fuel combustion emissions from 12% currently.

India currently has 977 steel plants and is one of the few bright spots for demand globally as Prime Minister Narendra Modis administration rolls out a plan to spend about $1.5 trillion to upgrade and build infrastructure over the next five years. Steel is the biggest carbon dioxide emitter among Indian industries.

If India is serious about mitigating carbon dioxide emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change, then serious action needs to be taken in the iron and steel sector, Will Hall, associate fellow at TERI, said in an emailed reply to Bloomberg. While there has been great success in the electricity sector with the growth of wind and solar, action in heavy industry, like iron and steel, will be more challenging.

Steelmakers are next in the crosshairs as climate pressure grows

In the near-term, mills should maximize the use of domestic scrap steel, improve energy efficiency and establish pilot plants to test emerging low carbon technologies, Hall said.

In addition, introducing a penalty for emissions in the steel sector from 2030 onward would send a clear signal to the industry to start planning for deeper decarbonisation technologies, according to TERI. Substitution of coal or natural gas as a reducing agent with hydrogen would also allow India to reduce its import dependency while cutting emissions, it said.

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Published on February 04, 2020
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