A new report, has found the steel industry needs to reduce its emissions by over 70% by 2050 in order to meet Paris Agreement objectives. The analysis covered a US$121bn grouping of the world’s largest steel companies.
However, that progress on research and development (R&D) in emerging decarbonisation technologies is limited and at early stages.
With low industry profitability, R&D expenses have been cut by 14% in US$ terms in recent years and there are no commercially available technologies today which can achieve these targets. The threat to the industry is urgent as over 70% of world steel production will be subject to a carbon price by the end of 2017.
The report from CDP – voted no. 1 climate change research provider by institutional investors and winner of Investment Week’s Best SRI Research 2016 – reveals that there has been no industry-wide progress in improving emissions and energy efficiency levels in a decade with all emissions reduction targets set to expire by 2020. The steel industry is responsible for 6-7% of global emissions, yet the report finds that of the 14 global steel companies analysed, over 40% (six) have not published any emissions reduction targets beyond 2016.
Drew Fryer, Senior Analyst, Investor Research at CDP said:
The steel industry will have to play a huge part in achieving the 2-degree scenario laid out in the Paris Agreement.
“However, there has been no progress in reducing its emissions over the past decade. Steelmakers need to prioritise funding of a technology transformation to reduce emissions in order to ensure targets are met. In particular, progress has been too slow to realise the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS), with no pilot projects underway in the steel industry.”
Today’s report benchmarks leading steel companies on their management of climate issues finding South Korean firms POSCO and Hyundai Steel among the best performing, with Tata Steel and US Steel ranking lowest among those who disclose.
CDP’s summary League Table for steel companies shows:
Other findings from the report include:
Over 70% of world steel production will be subject to a carbon price by end 2017, including from emissions trading schemes, carbon taxes or climate-focused coal taxes. Without success in realising the potential of breakthrough low emissions technologies, steelmakers could face a continuously rising burden of carbon permit obligations;
The industry’s progress in reducing emissions is inconsistent. More companies increased their emissions intensities than reduced them in the past seven years, with no industry-wide progress to improve energy efficiency in a decade;
Only eight companies in the report have outlined emissions reduction targets. All those will expire by 2020. Six out of 14 companies in our sample have not published any forward looking targets, or have targets that expire in 2016;
By 2030, 20% of sites assessed are projected to be in high water risk areas and 8% in extremely high risk areas. This could cause future business interruption exacerbated by climate change;
China makes up 50% of global steelmaking production but is not providing investors with the carbon-related disclosures they require to assess individual company risk and preparedness, and make informed investment decisions;
The steel industry is generally supportive of carbon regulation but has obstructed it in practice, arguing it could create inconsistencies between regions with and without carbon prices. However, debate between industry and regulators over ‘carbon leakage’ could enter a new phase as more countries introduce carbon prices including China;
Wuhan Iron and Steel, Nucor Corporation, Novolipetsk Steel OJSC, Steel Authority of India, Inner Mongolian Baotou Steel Union and SeverStal PAO which collectively represent over US$60 billion in market capitalisation, did not respond to CDP’s 2016 climate change questionnaire and are therefore not included in this report. Investors should ask these companies why they are not providing transparency on their carbon emissions.
You can view the executive summary of the report here.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.