Clean Energy

Nippon Steel, Number Three Steelmaker Globally, Officially Commits to Carbon Neutrality

This week, President Eiji Hashimoto of Japan’s Nippon Steel released a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. This announcement comes shortly after similar 2050 carbon neutrality pledges were made by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, as well as the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. 

Roger Smith, Mighty Earth’s Japan Project Manager, had this to say in reaction: 

“As the largest steel company in Japan and third in the world, Nippon Steel is now publicly committing to being a global player in the mission to defeat climate change. We welcome Nippon’s pledge as a crucial step in building momentum for the entire steel industry, as well as its suppliers and customers like Toyota and other carmakers, to tackle its outsized impact on the Earth’s climate. 

Nippon needs to demonstrate its seriousness by not only reforming its practices, but also working from within to change Keidanran’s (Japan Business Federation) positions on climate policy. For all too long Keidanren has worked to delay action at the national level to phase-out coal and scale-up domestic renewable energy.

“We are glad to see Nippon taking hydrogen research, development, and deployment seriously -- but are cautious of over-reliance on carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies to meet its emissions target. We need to displace dirty coal and forest biomass-burning technology altogether for industry, paired with clean electrification, material efficiency, and industry right-sizing. In their plans, we are particularly interested to see how they intend to achieve carbon neutrality with their new joint venture AM-NS India 

“Nippon also seems to recognize the urgency of this challenge indicating they will begin shifting from some aging facilities, primarily coal-burning blast furnaces, to electric furnaces and eventually scaling hydrogen-based production- both of which can be powered by renewable energy. . But these shifts must also include a moratorium on building any new coal or biomass-burning facilities anywhere and a plan to phase out existing coal burning facilities; this will ensure carbon neutral production becomes a reality. Forest biomass has often overlooked significant near-term carbon impacts as carbon sequestered in forests is converted into fuel, burned, and returned to the atmosphere. 

“We still await more specific, time-bound, and actionable steps from Nippon. This should light a fire and spur ambitious commitments and plans from its peer companies such as Baowu Group, HBIS, Nucor, Shagang, POSCO, Tata, and others.  But industry and governments alike must make robust investments and science-based commitments for the 1.5°C warming scenario to be possible. Now that industry has signaled its willingness to act, the Japanese government should provide public support in the form of green recovery to support steelmakers and other heavy industry as they invest in technologies that locks out carbon emissions in order to achieve this challenging goal and fast.  

For more about Mighty Earth’s global steel campaign, and to read their latest mini report on ArcelorMittal, visit www.mightyearth.org/steel.


Global Finance Leader HSBC Calls for Carbon-Neutral Steel

Steel is currently the largest source of industrial carbon emissions

HSBC, a global leader in banking and finance, has issued a new report calling for a “transition to responsible, zero carbon steel making.” This new report echoes Mighty Earth’s earlier reports – Cold Steel, Hot Climate and Construction Destruction – which focused on advances the steel and construction industries must undertake to solve the climate crisis and the potential for customers to create the demand for a new, more responsible steel industry. Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough, author of the two reports, released the following statement in response to HSBC’s new publication:

“This groundbreaking report from HSBC is the first time that a global financial leader has demonstrated a sophisticated enough understanding of the severity of the climate crisis in the context of the steel industry, which accounts for about 7-9 percent of emissions, and the urgent need to rapidly shift toward a carbon-neutral steel industry.

“For the last year, Mighty Earth has been sounding the alarm on steel and other heavy industrial carbon emissions and calling on the construction industry to drive demand for carbon-neutral steel. The conversation is changing, and HSBC’s instructive and incisive report has elevated this critical issue to a pivotal point. But we can’t wait another year for corporate commitments and major capital shifts – it will be too late. 

“Every banker, investment manager, financial regulator, and ratings agency in the world should be shaken up by this report. They should immediately ask the steel companies they do business with some tough questions. How will companies begin decarbonizing their assets? Will they invest in the necessary R&D to achieve the low-carbon transition milestones necessary to ensure a 1.5 degree warming scenario? What are their climate risks, and how fast are companies and the industry as a whole working to mitigate their climate impacts to manage those risks?

“The HSBC report makes two critical points. First, it underscores how critical steel will be to the growth of the clean energy and net-zero supply chains. Second, it demonstrates that there are lots of solutions and viable pathways for low and zero emissions steel right now. These are two of the many reasons Mighty Earth has been working with HSBC through ResponsibleSteel over the last year. We both know that by driving demand for responsible, zero-carbon steel and demonstrating the value for steel companies to participate, we can turn the tide on the climate crisis.

“This signal from global finance also means it’s past time for ArcelorMittal, Thyssunkrupp, Tata Steel and other big global steel players to start walking the walk when it comes to their own portfolios, supply chains, and policy agendas. If bankers are asking them for this, then it’s time for these companies to lead on policy solutions too. They need to engage in a robust, vocal, and constructive way in Europe and elsewhere right now to help set the most aggressive industrial decarbonization policy possible to benefit people and the planet.”

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Photo Credit: Gyver Chang via Flickr (Modified)

 


New Investment By Largest Steel Producer in U.S. Proves Clean Energy Can Power Heavy Industry

Nucor aiming to sign wind energy agreement in Missouri

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An E&E News story published today revealed that Nucor Steel, the number one steel producer in the US and number 11 globally, has filed a power purchase agreement for wind energy with Evergy Missouri (formally KCPL).

In response to this news, Margaret Hansbrough, a Missouri native and Campaign Director at Mighty Earth, released the following statement:

"Last year, Mighty Earth called upon Nucor and the entire steel industry to commit to carbon neutrality and clean energy, and for Nucor specifically to begin switching to clean electricity. Despite their initial claims that renewable energy could not handle the power generation needs of their steel mills, it took Nucor only a few months after we launched our public campaign to start filing papers for this wind agreement and begin transitioning to clean energy for a new mill in Sedalia, Missouri.

"We have said that switching to clean electricity is good for business, good for the climate, and good for clean energy jobs. Now we know that to be true. This approach builds on the natural competitive advantage electricity-produced steel has in the U.S. broadly and in states with cheap renewables in particular. Nucor's new mill in Sedalia is a compelling proof of concept. Nucor cuts costs and reduces the embodied carbon in its steel; the state of Missouri leverages clean, cheap electricity to bring new jobs to the state. It’s a win-win move, and we hope the company will repeat this practice in all the states where they are expanding."

 

James Owen, Executive Director of Renew Missouri, Missouri’s leading renewable energy advocacy organization, also provided a reaction to this news:

"The work between Evergy and Nucor shows that clean energy is a necessary economic development tool if Missouri is serious about jobs and attracting business. The Show-Me State benefits economically through high-paying construction and technician jobs. Cheap clean energy will be critical to attracting and retaining industrial jobs like steel production. Not only that, the steel industry and companies like Nucor benefit enormously from the expansion of electricity transmission infrastructure with projects like the Grain Belt Express as well as expanded generation on wind farms built with USA produced steel. If Missouri really wanted to walk the walk on job creation, we could change our laws that made Evergy and Nucor's contract a normal part of business. This would be good for communities and utility customers all over Missouri."

 

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global campaign organization that works to protect the environment. We focus on big issues: conserving threatened landscapes like tropical rainforests, protecting oceans, and solving climate change. In the fall of 2018, Mighty Earth launched a global campaign calling on Nucor and other global steel leaders to commit to clean energy and carbon neutrality. The campaign released two groundbreaking reports: Cold Steel, Hot Climate and Construction Destruction. Both reports focused on advances the steel and construction industries must undertake right away to solve the climate crisis and specifically outlined ways for Nucor to lead the market in low carbon steel making by committing to clean electricity. For full reports and statements visit: www.mightyearth.org/steel.

 

About Renew Missouri

Renew Missouri was founded in 2006 to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in the state of Missouri. In that time, Renew Missouri has advanced legislation, passed statewide ballot initiatives, crafted local ordinances, and represented these interests before state regulators on hundreds of cases. For more information, visit renewmo.org.


Skanska UK Pledges Zero Emissions by 2045, Leads Construction Industry in Climate Commitments

Today, one of the top construction firms in the United Kingdom, Skanska UK, pledged to make its entire business carbon neutral by 2045. The company will eliminate emissions from both its direct operations and its supply chain, including materials like steel and cement. This pledge goes above and beyond the commitment made by its parent company, Skanska AB (SKSBF), to be carbon neutral by 2050, and sets a new bar for global corporate sustainability and climate action.

"This is a game changer for the climate crisis and for the construction industry,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough. “This is an example of real leadership in a sector that has been slow to move. But now Skanska UK has set the wheels in motion, and there is no going back. We hope that the rest of the company – Skanska AB and all its affiliates – and the broader industry will follow this example quickly."

Materials for the construction industry account for 11 percent of all emissions and, by 2050, are projected to account for 49 percent of all building sector emissions, nearly equivalent to those from operational use of buildings. Steel as a whole, accounts for 7-9 percent of all global emissions.

In 2018, Mighty Earth launched a campaign asking Skanska and its competitors to make commitments to decarbonize their materials supply chain, starting with steel suppliers. The commitment by Skanska UK is the most expansive in the construction sector to date. Skanska is viewed as one of the most sustainable construction companies in the world and ranks in the top 10 in the global market.

"We need green building leaders here in the U.S. and around the world to follow the lead of their colleagues in the U.K.,” said Hansbrough. “Now is the time to make public commitments and set implementation plans toward deep decarbonization in the construction sector. This pledge from Skanska UK demonstrates that there are clear pathways to achieving zero emissions in the construction sector and, by proxy, in the heavy industrial sector. The climate crisis has never been more urgent, and we need more companies to step up and face the crisis head-on as Skanska UK has begun to do."


Clean energy advocates gather in Charlotte, NC for launch of Stainless: The 100% Clean Energy Steel Campaign

Earlier this week, more than 30 people gathered at Birdsong Brewing in Charlotte, NC for the launch of Stainless: The 100% Clean Energy Steel Campaign. The campaign aims to transition the steel industry to 100 percent clean energy for its electricity supply, starting with Nucor Corporation, the largest steel producer in the United States.

Supporters were energized by speeches from clean energy advocates June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina; Dimple Ajmera, Charlotte City Councilwoman at-large; Nakisa Glover, founder of local environmental justice group Sol Nation; and Margaret Hansbrough, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth.

“With Nucor Steel’s national headquarters in Charlotte, we are here to urge the largest steel company in the country to move away from carbon-based fuels to meet their massive demand for electricity, and towards a clean energy future using carbon-free renewable energy. We need them to be a leader,” Blotnick said.

“It is about time to ask Nucor and their leadership team to help us reach our sustainability goals but more importantly to continue to be competitive in the industry,” said Ajmera, who started her address by highlighting the campaign’s alignment with Charlotte’s clean energy goals.

Nucor has operations in 25 states. It uses electricity-intensive electric arc furnaces (EAFs) to turn scrap metal into new steel, a method used to produce 68 percent of steel in the United States. Because domestic EAFs source their electricity from the fossil fuel-dominated grid, they emit 11.1 million metric tons of CO2 per year. By committing to clean energy, Nucor and other steel companies can eliminate these emissions.

Hansbrough said, “This is a win-win-win issue. It is good for Nucor, it is good for North Carolina and every state that Nucor operates in, and it is good for the planet.”

To support this campaign, sign the petition, and follow Mighty Earth on twitter (@standmighty) and Facebook to learn more about opportunities to get involved.