ArcelorMittal aims to significantly reduce its carbon emissions by 2050 and may need to start making steel in a whole new way.
The multinational steelmaker, which employs 10,000 workers in Northwest Indiana, said it aspires to be completely carbon-neutral in Europe by then. That could involve a radical overhaul in the steelmaking process since carbon is now used to separate oxygen from iron ore in blast furnaces.
The company has been working to reduce its carbon emissions worldwide by 8% by 2020 as compared to 2007. ArcelorMittal said it will set a new 2030 target next year.
“We believe it can be possible for the steel industry to deliver carbon emissions reductions targets in line with the Paris agreement," ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mital said in the company's newly released Climate Action Report. "We are committed to this objective and are actively piloting several low-carbon steelmaking technologies. Central to achieving this aspiration will be supportive policy to ensure a global level playing field, access to sufficient clean energy at competitive prices and access to finance. The energy industry has made great strides in creating a pathway to lower emissions through supportive policy and we are confident the same can be true for steel."
The global steel industry, which made 1.7 billion tons of steel last year, accounts for 7% of total emissions worldwide. That could potentially increase as steel production is expected to rise to 2.6 billion tons by 2050.
ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker by volume, however wants to help the steel industry keep the global average temperatures from rising less than two degrees by developing breakthrough technologies, such as clean-power steelmaking, circular carbon steelmaking that uses waste biomass or fossil fuel capture and storage in which carbon is recycled and not released into the atmosphere.
“Limiting the temperature increase to two degrees or less is no easy challenge," Mittal said. "Real and genuine understanding of the complexities and an approach of collaboration and flexibility will be critical if we are to succeed. Specifically, we will need a more supportive policy environment that considers the global nature of steel, the cost implications of significantly changing the way steel is made and the clean energy supply needed to do so. If we can work together to solve the problem, I’m convinced the steel industry will be able to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions globally.”