Worldsteel chief: ‘combined solution’ key to climate change


SBB 20 April World Steel Association director general Edwin Basson said all industry – and all industrial nations – must be included in ongoing efforts to curb carbon emissions, not just steel.

Basson, in an address during Platts Steel Business Briefing’s third-annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin, called regulations aimed at reducing so-called tailpipe emissions “nonsensical” and said a life-cycle assessment approach is essential in making future strides.

Worldsteel, whose membership includes 17 of the 20 largest steelmakers in the world, believes the global steel industry is already a key player in moving toward greener industrial output, even as it accounts for just 6.5% of all CO2 production.

Basson pointed to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, which required some 83,000 tonnes of steel. “Today, only half that amount would be needed,” due to advances in stronger, lightweight steels, Basson said, adding that water recycled by steelmakers back into rivers and other bodies of water also is often cleaner than when it was extracted.

“Clearly, it is impossible to solve he climate change issue by focusing on the steel industry,” he said. “The future solution must be a combined solution.” Also, any near-term results gained by reducing steel’s CO2 output will be limited. “This is not going to give us results today or tomorrow. We will not halve carbon emissions in the next five years,” Basson said.

Matthias Finkbeiner, professor of life-cycle analysis at the Berlin Technical University, said “hardly any measure is a silver bullet.”

Finkbeiner said the UK’s total CO2 emissions increased by 19% since 1990, even as its domestic industry reduced overall emissions by 12%. The reason: the UK was a net importer of emissions related to the consumption of products made in other regions not as environmentally conscious.

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