Rad­i­cal plan to re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Steel -

E URO­PEAN steel com­pa­nies are work­ing hard to re­duce the im­pact on their op­er­a­tions of the im­pend­ing next round of Euro­pean Union car­bon con­straints.

Con­fronted by a pro­posal to es­tab­lish a bench­mark for emis­sions trad­ing from 2013 based on the low­est out­put of car­bon diox­ide achieved by their pro­duc­tion lines, the whole Euro­pean steel in­dus­try is cam­paign­ing for ex­emp­tions in the next per­mit auc­tion.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment sit­ting in Brus­sels is cur­rently de­lib­er­at­ing over the pol­icy. Emis­sions trad­ing is the core of the EU’s cam­paign to re­duce the 27- na­tion bloc’s car­bon foot­print by a fifth by 2020. Un­der its rules, more than 11,000 in­dus­trial plants and power op­er­a­tions — which cur­rently re­lease 2 bil­lion tonnes of CO a year, al­most four times Aus­tralia’s en­tire an­nual na­tional emis­sions — will be taken in to a third phase of the scheme that has been widely crit­i­cised as in­ef­fi­cient.

EU gov­ern­ments plan to move the scheme to full auc­tion­ing of per­mits in 2020, amid con­tro­versy over ar­range­ments now that are seen as too le­nient and which are claimed to have com­plaint is that gov­ern­ments bend the trad­ing rules to suit their lo­cal con­ve­nience. ArcelorMit­tal, the world’s largest iron and steel com­pany, cur­rently is pur­su­ing the French Gov­ern­ment through the courts be­cause it says the steel in­dus­try is be­ing treated dif­fer­ently to the alu­minium and plas­tics in­dus­tries.

In re­cent lob­by­ing on the is­sue, the gi­ant Ger­man ThyssenKrupp Steel Group echoed the con­cerns of Aus­tralian en­ergy- in­ten­sive man­u­fac­tur­ers that Euro­pean steel op­er­a­tions are heav­ily dis­ad­van­taged un­der the EU trad­ing scheme in com­pe­ti­tion with steel­mak­ers in coun­tries not im­pos­ing car­bon con­straints. Gun­nar Still, ThyssenKrupp chair­man, says 10,000 jobs at the com­pany’s main site — and Europe’s big­gest steel plant — in Duis­berg are un­der threat.

Still ar­gues that the out­come of EU pol­icy will be the slow aban­don­ment of Europe by the steel in­dus­try, with­out its con­tri­bu­tion to global lev­els of green­house gases be­ing re­duced be­cause the gi­ant firms will re­lo­cate to the de­vel­op­ing world. Keith Orchi­son

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