Decarbonization of Steel and Concrete Ignored in UN Ministerial Meeting on Green Recovery

Today, Japanese Minister for the Environment Shinjiro Koizumi led a virtual meeting of more than 50 ministers and cross-sector stakeholders from around the world to develop a shared vision for a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and launch a new online Platform for Redesign 2020. Following the meeting, Mighty Earth campaign director Margaret Hansbrough issued the following statement:

“While it was encouraging to see such a unified effort across nations to align around some core principles for a green recovery agenda, it is inexcusable that they failed to even mention the carbon impact of the steel and concrete industries. These sectors alone are responsible for about 15 percent of all global emissions, and have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Green recovery policies for steel and concrete could secure lasting emissions reductions, but a failure to act means we may never achieve the reductions we need in the next five to ten years to meet a 1.5 degree target.

“Industrial decarbonization needs to be a top green recovery priority, full stop. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tie the recovery of these industries to technologies that reduce carbon emissions. Now is the time for Minister Koizumi to step up with specific plans for Japan to tackle the climate emissions from its dirtiest industries. As the number three producer of steel in the world, and a leader in research and development, Japan has a critical role to play in the decarbonization of steelmaking and heavy industry more broadly. Keidanren and heavy industry have been allowed to block climate progress in Japan for far too long.

“We need Koizumi to press forward with recovery assistance that includes game-changing investments in hydrogen as an industrial heating source, carbon capture and storage, and other breakthrough technologies that will revolutionize steelmaking and other industrial processes. These investments must be core to a green recovery, because only dramatic action on decarbonization is going to deliver the results we need to avoid climate catastrophe.”