Posts Tagged ‘Green Steel Strategies conference’

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.

Carbon reduction initiatives spur debate

SBB 25 April  The merits of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System and other carbon reduction initiatives generated a spirited debate during Platts Steel Business Briefing’s third-annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin.

A panel including; Steve Rowlan, Nucor’s gm of environmental affairs; Baroness Worthington, a member of British Parliament and founder of Sandbag; Christopher Beauman, senior adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; and Mike Romano, vp of strategic accounts for NALCO; discussed the challenges of operating under current and proposed mandates.

Worthington argued a number of European steelmakers are “sitting on a large set of allowances” under the EU’s carbon trading scheme, as emissions have been below previous estimates.

Some say that’s simply due to reduced steel production amid the recessionary economic climate, and when one panelist questioned whether steel producers believe in the initiative, Worthington fired back: “It’s not whether you believe in it or not. It’s not a ghost or God. It’s actually a functioning policy that’s in place right now to bring carbon [emissions} down.”

Many involved in European carbon trading argue there should be intervention to prop up the sagging carbon price (a result of surplus emissions), such as a set-aside of allowances, as low prices do nothing to spur investment into new technology.

European steelmakers have told Platts SBB there should be no “manipulation” of the market, which is just designed to cut emissions.

Rowlan said cap-and-trade initiatives like those in place in Europe and being considered in the US put steelmakers at a cost disadvantage to competitors in regions without such policies. “To an industry that wants to be competitive, it is all about cost,” he said. “How does the steel industry survive?”

Beauman conceded higher costs “are inevitable” in the effort to reduce global CO2. “The question is at what spread and at what fairness?” he said.

Still, Romano said unproven and costly technologies like carbon sequestration aren’t the answer in the near term. “The technologies aren’t coming to the forefront in the next five years,” he said.

Eurofer: Europe’s carbon reduction scheme ‘heavy burden’ for industry

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.