Largest Steelmaker in the World Sets Carbon Neutrality Goal for Europe

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

[email protected]

Mighty Earth encouraged by steel industry’s first-ever climate action plan

The largest steelmaker in the world, ArcelorMittal, which is responsible for approximately 0.7 percent of all global carbon emissions, has set a goal of achieving carbon-neutral operations in Europe by 2050.

Given the scope of ArcelorMittal’s operations in Europe, where it is headquartered and maintains a significant operational footprint, this commitment is the most significant in the steel industry to date. This goal, which was first revealed in the company’s recently issued Climate Action Report 1, also puts the company closer in line with its European competitors like ThyssenKrupp and SSAB, which have set their own carbon-neutral and fossil-free commitments, respectively.

In 2018, Mighty Earth launched a campaign asking the steel industry to commit to carbon neutrality. This commitment from the world’s largest and most influential steelmaker is a sign of progress. However, ArcelorMittal has large and growing operations around the world but has not yet made a carbon neutral commitment for their global operations.

Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough offered her analysis after reviewing the plan:

“This commitment by ArcelorMittal demonstrates some meaningful leadership in the industry and is a big step. We particularly appreciate how vocal the company’s CEO, Lakshmi Mittal, has been in the release of this climate action plan and on the need for heavy industrial companies like his to play a role in solving our climate crisis. We need every steel industry executive in the world to follow his lead and engage in a meaningful and constructive way.

“However, we have serious questions and concerns about the role of charcoal or ‘circular carbon’ as the report refers to, as a key element in achieving carbon neutrality in Europe.

“The report refers to ‘forestry residues’ to create charcoal for steelmaking. But we know from experience that very little bioenergy is truly sustainable. Over-reliance on wood as a source of energy can create large new pressures on forests, incentivizing deforestation. ArcelorMittal needs to ensure that any charcoal they are currently using or will use in the future is not driving deforestation anywhere in the world. We need to be reforesting our planet as fast as possible to remove carbon. Without extreme vigilance, the use of charcoal could lead to increased deforestation and worsen our climate catastrophe.

“We also have significant concerns about pollution from charcoal. We are taking a close look at this plan and will continue to engage with the company and the industry to push for the most aggressive and achievable emissions reductions possible to stay within a 1.5-degree scenario. In order to do that, global industrial emissions must be cut in half by 2030. We need to see 2025 and 2030 emission reduction goals from ArcelorMittal and other top global producers as soon as possible. Additional commitments for 100 percent clean electricity sourcing and offsetting current steel emissions through forest conservation and restoration are needed to move the industry in the right direction.

“And while a carbon neutral commitment for Europe is a big step in the right direction, no company or country can rely on any strategy that outsources emissions to another part of the planet. If emissions go down in Europe but grow in India, then no progress has been made. All emissions are global.

“Overall, we are supportive of much of the content in the company’s climate report, including its investments in hydrogen technology, support for abundant clean energy sources and infrastructure, access to low-emissions finance tools, and border trade adjustments. And we are in full agreement that there need to be ways of leveling the global carbon playing field to ensure we are not outsourcing emissions.

“Mighty Earth is encouraged by these recent developments, but we remain watchful. We are optimistic about plans for a global certification body, ResponsibleSteel, and plan to engage with the group and all the stakeholders involved. ArcelorMittal’s leadership with this group shows they are a leader in the industry, and we look forward to working with them to pave the way for a 100 percent carbon-neutral steel industry.”

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