Environment and Energy

Steel associations respond to Steel Standards Principles introduced at WTO

Written by Laura Miller

At the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference currently underway in Dubai, a group of stakeholders introduced the Steel Standards Principles, calling for the establishment of common methodologies for measuring greenhouse-gas emissions in the sector.

SMU asked the two major US steel associations for their thoughts on the standards. Here’s what they had to say.

Steel Manufacturers Association

In an interview, SMA President Philip Bell told SMU the association was very pleased to endorse the principles. If the industry is serious about decarbonizing globally, then there needs to be a real attempt at coming into agreement on some basic concepts, he said, and these standards are a good start.

With the SMA Board of Directors voting to support the standards, Bell believes the association now has a seat at the table to be able to influence and guide policy in this area.

Different groups have come out with different standards, and all are clamoring to have their thoughts and opinions heard on the matter. Two of the big ones thus far are the Global Steel Climate Council (GSCC) (of which the SMA is a founding member) with its Steel Climate Standard and ResponsibleSteel with its International Standard V2.0.

The idea of the Steel Standards Principles put forward at the WTO is taking some of the best elements of all these standards and groups and coming together to start to coalesce around a coherent policy, Bell said. The principles will continue to evolve and improve, he noted.

“What’s most important is these principles agree on something that is core to SMA: That whatever we do, it needs to be process- and technology-agnostic,” Bell said. In other words, it doesn’t matter how you make the steel, what your raw materials are, or what region of the world you’re in, the focus ultimately needs to be on reducing CO2 emissions, he said.

An important aspect of the technology-agnostic performance-based measures, he commented, is that there are still technologies evolving and yet to be commercialized and/or discovered that will need to be considered. The principles have to adapt to these emerging processes and technologies, such as the combination of DRI and natural gas in steelmaking, as well as hydrogen-based steelmaking.

Noting that American steelmakers continue to be the most energy-efficient steel producers in the world, “By becoming a part of these principles, we’re going to be able to share our ideas and successes with the rest of the world,” Bell concluded.

American Iron and Steel Institute

Although the AISI did not sign on to endorse the Steel Standards Principles at this time, it does not mean the association may not consider doing so in the future. The Washington, D.C.-based organization has been actively working on a variety of GHG-related issues for a number of years for its members and the American steel industry.

Last year, AISI recommended its own guidelines for calculating GHG emissions from steel production.

“We remain committed to working with partners in government, industry and other interested groups to reach consensus on the most appropriate methodologies for ensuring consistent and comprehensive data on GHG emissions in the steel industry,” AISI’s president and CEO Kevin Dempsey told SMU in an email.

“This requires detailed work on a number of complex issues that cannot be resolved simply through reference to high-level principles that do not address the many technical questions currently under analysis and debate,” he noted.

Laura Miller

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