Europe’s energy intensive industries continue to complain about the future cost of carbon credits. Issues of cost and the effectiveness of current regulation is legitimate. A life cycle approach to emissions is still not part of European policy and sometimes costs can lead to less investment in new, cleaner technologies. But ultimately the effect of the weak economy will have a far greater effect on invesment in European industry.
SBB 20 April Europe’s approach to reducing steelmakers’ carbon emissions presents “a heavy burden to the competitiveness of the industry” that ultimately restrains investment in new facilities and technologies aimed at achieving the same goal, according to German Steel Federation president Hans Jurgen Kerkhoff.
Kerkhoff, speaking at Platts SBB’s third annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin, said while the European Union’s carbon reduction targets are ambitious, their impact is lessened as other regions around the world have not committed similarly to the effort. And the cost of such measures – which will total billions of euros annually – take funding away from important technological advances that many producers already are undertaking.
The German steel industry on its own realized a 2.4% year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions in 2011, but a steel life-cycle assessment approach should be the focus of emissions initiatives going forward, he said.
“Instead of regulatory investments, we should give more priority to technological developments,” Kerkhoff said, adding that his organization is “in constant political discussions in Berlin, as well as Brussels,” home of the EU. “Climate protection begins with steel,” Kerkhoff said. “Steel is the basis of sustainable value creation. A sustainable economy can only grow up with and out of industry.”
Echoing Kerkhoff’s sentiments, Danny Croon, environment director for Eurofer, said in a separate presentation that the industry views Europe’s carbon measures as “unilateral and disproportionate” to other regions of the world.