To close the climate ambition gap, we must look beyond national targets

(Climate Home News, 9 Sep 2021) Until recently it was considered very difficult to decarbonize steel production, an essential material for many basic needs: infrastructure, vehicles, housing.

Since the Paris Agreement on climate was struck in 2015, industry leaders have identified at least five means to dramatically reduce the sector’s emissions as facilities come up for renovation.

More than ten near-zero emissions commercial steel works have been announced to be operating by 2025-30, powered by cheap wind and solar, plus a few others helped by a fresh and realistic look at carbon capture and storage technologies that work today.

These new technologies allow new intermediate trade flows and business models by geographically splitting the steelmaking value chain while maximizing the use of local steel recycling. Once these technologies are established, we could see very substantial reductions (80%+) from the emissions expected from the sector by 2050 (about 7-10% of global emissions) along with job opportunities in industrial hubs.

Encouraging sectoral developments like these are not reflected in the national short-term commitments submitted under the Paris Agreement, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This is not necessarily wrong: NDCs focus on the economy-wide picture and emission targets; they are heavily negotiated binding commitments at government-level; and finally, emission reductions derived from developments like in the steel industry above are only to be expected after 2030.

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Climate Home News, 9 Sep 2021: To close the climate ambition gap, we must look beyond national targets