Much hope rests on the green steel initiative

Preeti Mehra | Updated on: Jul 21, 2022

Indian businesses have begun to show interest in decarbonising the alloy

It needs to be a full throttle effort if the world’s ambition to keep global warming below 1.5°C is to be realised, and India has made its intentions clear that it will keep its ‘net zero’ promises. This means that apart from promoting renewable energy, India, like other countries, must push its entire industrial sector to bring down its emissions in a big way.

While the cement industry, with one of the highest emissions, has been actively engaging with the decarbonising of cement, many climate activists feel that the time has come for the ‘harder to abate’ steel industry to also start inspecting its backyard, and bring down its carbon footprint to make way for the future with green steel.  

Heavy industry, high emissions

Why has decarbonising steel gained so much urgency? Simply because energy is the cause of about three-quarters of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally and emissions from heavy industry make up between one-fifth and a quarter of the total respectively. Hence, to reach net zero goals, ‘deep decarbonisation’ of heavy industry will obviously make a big difference. And steel is one such major sector.

In the case of India, steel plays a major role as the country is currently the world’s second-largest steel-producer. In the current financial year it produced 120 MT, and according to the International Energy Agency, by 2050 almost one-fifth of the steel produced globally is expected to come from India. Besides this, India envisages increased domestic consumption of steel as it gears up to build more infrastructure. 

Targets to be set at Sept meet

The nudge to decarbonise steel came in April this year at a preparatory gathering in New Delhi. This consisted of countries belonging to the high-level global forum, Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Industry Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI), who met to plan for CEM13—the 13 th Clean Energy Ministerial—to be held in September in Pittsburgh, USA. Here, governments are not only expected to announce the targets they will set to decarbonise industries, but they will also make green public procurement policy commitments and set procurement targets for the industry to respond to.

SteelZero initiative

As a natural corollary, July saw the launch of a global net zero steel initiative in the country christened SteelZero. Steered by the international non-profit Climate Group, in partnership with ResponsibleSteel, it had the backing of some leading Indian companies including JSW, Tata Steel and Larsen & Toubro. The idea was that these major players lead the way to introducing green steel in the country.

The idea of SteelZero is to appeal to every business, big and small, and bring them together to make a public commitment to produce, buy and use 50 per cent low emission steel by 2030. This, they hope, will set a pathway to using 100 per cent net zero steel by 2050.

Published on July 24, 2022
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