eaf steelmaking
Photo courtesy of Nucor Corp.

Steel coalition promotes standard to measure, reduce carbon emissions

The Global Steel Climate Council is comprised of EAF steel producers in the U.S. and Europe.

November 22, 2022

An international group of steel manufacturers has formed the Global Steel Climate Council (GSCC), a coalition to urge the United States and European Union to adopt a global emission standard that incentivizes steelmakers to use the cleanest steel production process available.  

The GSCC says it supports a global standard to accelerate the transition to low-emission steel and recognize the potential of the recycled, circular steel model to reduce carbon emissions.

The GSCC asserts that any agreement on a new emissions standard for steel production should focus on the amount of emissions generated, not on how steel is made. Much of world's steel production is extremely carbon-intensive because it primarily relies on mined and processed coal, iron ore and limestone, the coalition says. However, other steelmakers, including those producing more than 70 percent of all U.S. and more than 40 percent of all European manufactured steel today, use electric arc furnaces (EAFs) that principally input recycled scrap to produce steel, generating significantly lower carbon emissions. 

"We have the technology to reduce carbon emissions in steel production by 70 percent today," says Leon Topalian, chair, president and CEO of Nucor Corp., Charlotte, North Carolina, and a founding member of the GSCC. "The global industry needs to build on the innovation that has already led to cleaner steel production in the United States because the green and digital economies around the world are going to be built with steel, and the steel they are built with matters."

A "sliding scale" standard supported by high-emission steelmakers would set greenhouse gas emission standards ceilings up to nine times higher for extractive versus recycled products, the GSCC says, penalizing EAF producers and permitting higher-emission steel to be erroneously labeled as "green." Under a sliding scale, two steel products could be classified as equally "green," even though one was produced by creating multiple times more carbon emissions than the other, the coalition adds.

Mark D. Millett, chairman, president and CEO of Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana; chairman of the Steel Manufacturers Association; and a founding member of the GSCC, says. "Steel is essential for our economies, including the world's essential infrastructure. This new standard will accelerate the actual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and provide key decision-makers with accurate data to make informed decisions.”

"We must prevent steel producers from classifying their products as green when the same products are available on the market with significantly lower carbon emissions," adds Francisco Cardona, head of Public Affairs of CELSA Group, a leading European steel producer and a founding member of the GSCC.

The GSCC says a number of principles should guide standard development:

  • reducing GHG emissions from the global steel industry;
  • establishing a standard that is technology/production method agnostic;
  • establishing a standard that has a system boundary that includes Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions;
  • establishing a standard that aligns with a science-based glide path to achieve a 1.5-degree scenario by the year 2050; and
  • providing relevant information on sustainable steelmaking to appropriate decision-makers.

"The GSCC single standard will encourage all producers to reduce their carbon emissions and create a level playing field for all manufacturers,” Philip K. Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, Washington, and founding member of the GSCC, says. “The U.S.-EU negotiations should not create a double standard and a slippery slope toward a dirtier environment. We can do better.”