August 5, 2021

the steel and cement sectors recognize their backwardness

Ursula von der Leyen had acknowledged this, on September 16, 2020, in her speech on the Union delivered to the European Parliament: reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 55% (CO2) by 2030 compared to 1990 “Is too important for some and insufficient for others”. But, assured the President of the Commission, “Our economy and our industry can cope”.

This was also the opinion of 200 multinational bosses, including the French Alstom, EDF, Engie, Orange, Saint-Gobain, Schneider Electric and Veolia, who co-signed an open letter supporting this “Fit for 55” project for “Avoid the worst effects of the climate and ensure a sustainable and competitive economic recovery”. Apart from Total, no player in the extractive industries (coal, oil, gas, minerals, etc.) was among the signatories. No more than the cement manufacturer LafargeHolcim, the steelmaker ArcelorMittal or Air France-KLM.

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Not all sectors are in the same situation. Air transport has been exempt from kerosene tax since 1944. On behalf of the “Consistency” of its climate policy, the Commission has opted for progressive taxation on intra-European flights, which will have to win unanimity among the Twenty-Seven. The International Air Transport Association denounced “Punitive measures”, while the sector does not foresee a return to the situation of 2019 before 2024-2025. The A4E, the lobby of European companies, has warned Brussels against a loss of competitiveness against non-European competitors and an additional cost of 10 billion euros in 2030 (including the end of free rights to pollute) .

The steel industry, responsible for 7.6% of global CO emissions2 (4% in France), is late, even if it recalls that a hundred “green” projects are at an advanced stage on the Old Continent. Axel Eggert, Managing Director of the European Steel Association, considers the target of 55% “Achievable”, provided you fix ” urgently ” an appropriate framework: public support for innovation, creation of a market for green materials, affordable renewable energies, fair competition rules to avoid dumping from low-cost countries (China, Russia, Turkey, etc.).

More recycling

However, “More than 75% of the current world capacity or under construction will use carbon intensive technologies (blast furnace and oxygen furnace)”, preventing any reduction of CO2 for at least forty years, notes a report by Global Energy Monitor published in June. “The climate forecasts clearly show that the steel park must switch to electrified steel production”, underlines Caitlin Swalec, its main author.

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