India’s iron and steel industry is capable of emitting less and producing more: CSE

CSE underlines the need for better planning, new technologies and adequate finance to help the sector make the much-needed shift in today’s climate-stressed world

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 01 March 2023
Parth Kumar, programme manager, industrial pollution, CSE; Sunita Narain, CSE director general and Ruchika Govil from the Ministry of Steel.

India’s iron and steel sector can produce less emissions and increase its output at the same time, according to a new analysis released February 28, 2023, by Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The analysis also gave a number of recommendations to achieve these twin goals. These included switching over to cleaner fuels, increasing the use of steel scrap, implementing carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and organising finance for a switchover to new fuels and technologies.

The analysis, Decarbonising India’s Iron and Steel Sector by 2030 and Beyond, was released at a day-long stakeholder workshop in New Delhi.

Sunita Narain, director general, CSE, noted:

The iron and steel industry is an emission-intensive sector. Our new analysis shows it is possible to bring down carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our iron and steel sector drastically by 2030, while more than doubling India’s output of steel. We can emit even less than what we do today. But this will need planning, technology and adequate funds.

Speakers and participants included Narain, Ruchika Chaudhry Govil, additional secretary, Union ministry of steel, Government of India; Richa Sharma, additional secretary, Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Government of India; Parmjeet Singh, additional industrial advisor, Union ministry of steel, Government of India; Andrew Purvis, director, World Steel Association; and some top industry representatives.

Nivit Yadav, programme director, industrial pollution, CSE, said:

The iron and steel sector is a hard-to-abate sector in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; at the same time, it is a critical contributor to the economic development of the country. Globally, the sector accounts for some 7 per cent of total GHG emissions; in India, the sector’s share is 5 per cent (as per the latest Biennial Update Report (BUR) submitted to UNFCCC in 2016).

The workshop navigated the issues of fuel shift, low carbon technology, energy efficiency, increasing generation and usage of steel scrap and carbon capture utilisation and storage for the Indian iron and steel sector.

“Countries like India need to grow and develop at a time when the world is running out of carbon budget to stay below the guardrail of 1.5°C temperature rise. Given the conundrum, the crucial question that we should all ask is how can India ensure the double benefits of reduced emissions and growth?” Parth Kumar, programme manager, industrial pollution, CSE, said while giving the opening presentation.

He added that while energy efficiency is a significant low hanging fruit for decarbonisation, CSE recommends a fuel shift to alternate / cleaner fuels for reducing carbon emissions from the sector. “The challenge that lies ahead for us is to make cleaner fuels affordable and available,” Kumar said.

Another prominent pathway advocated by CSE in its report is increasing the use of steel scrap. India is making efforts to increase its domestic steel scrap generation through various sources like vehicles, construction, shipping etc, especially with the passage of the Steel Scrap Recycling Policy and the Vehicular Scrappage Policy.

Said Yadav: “We need to ensure effective implementation of these policies that would lead to increased generation of good quality steel scrap along with encouraging India’s steel producers to move towards optimum scrap usage in steel production.”

As the sector plans to double its production by 2030 with 60-65 per cent production based on coal-intensive technology — blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) — steel players are actively considering the option of carbon capture utilisation and storage.

Ruchika Govil from the Union Ministry of Steel said the ministry has welcomed CSE’s recommendations and is willing to work with CSE to make the steel sector less carbon-intensive.

“The bottom line is that it is possible to bend the CO 2 curve even for a sector like iron and steel. Countries like India can develop while drastically reducing their GHG emissions. The only question is if the rich world will accept the imperative of climate justice and provide the funds for the technology transformation necessary for a future-ready industry,” said Narain while concluding the workshop.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.