New York — The world's largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050, it said Sept 30.
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The company said it was building on the commitment made in 2019 for its European business to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030. It added, however, that a level global playing field with green border adjustments, access to abundant and affordable clean energy as well as policies to support the necessary infrastructure would be required to achieve this.
President and CFO Aditya Mittal made the new commitment before speaking about the challenges of decarbonizing the steel industry at the Financial Times Commodities Conference.
He said in the statement that all parts of the economy in every region of the world would have to contribute to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
"As the world's leading steel company, we believe we have a responsibility to lead the efforts to decarbonize the steel-making process, which today has a significant carbon footprint," Mittal said.
"Steel will remain a vital material for our world and indeed is the most circular of all materials. Our challenge is to be able to make steel using clean energy technologies on a commercial scale, while remaining competitive in the global steel industry."
"Critical to turning the target into reality will be policy to enable steel to remain competitive while decarbonizing -- particularly given every region of the world is moving at a different pace. We intend to actively engage with governments to chart a way forward that enables the steel industry to make meaningful progress through carefully designed policy that protects against carbon leakage," he added.
Two routes to decarbonization
ArcelorMittal has identified two low-emissions steelmaking routes, both of which have the potential to lead to carbon-neutral steelmaking: the Hydrogen-Direct Reduced Iron route, which uses hydrogen as a reducing agent, and the Smart Carbon route which centers around modifying the blast furnace route to create carbon-neutral steelmaking through the use of circular carbon in the form of sustainable biomass or carbon containing waste streams and carbon capture and use (CCU) and storage (CCS).
A demonstration Hydrogen-DRI plant at the ArcelorMittal site in Hamburg, where the company has Europe's only operational DRI-electric arc furnace plant, is currently planned and is scheduled to start up in 2023. ArcelorMittal is also constructing several commercial-scale projects to test a range of Smart Carbon technologies. The aim is to start up the key projects in 2022.
The company said both routes had the potential to deliver carbon-neutral steel by 2050, but that it believed Smart Carbon could deliver results sooner, "and make a meaningful contribution to CO2 emissions reduction this decade, while industrial scale production from the Hydrogen-DRI route is unlikely to be significant before 2030 due to the current high costs."
ArcelorMittal said that it would give further details on its 2050 net-zero target in its second climate action report, which is expected to be published before the end of 2020.