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WTO welcomes steel Standards principles for decarbonisation

By TIOL News Service

GENEVA, DEC 02, 2023: WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the endorsement by standard setting bodies, international organizations, steel producers and industry associations of a set of principles aimed at aligning how greenhouse gas emissions are measured in the steel sector. This novel partnership was announced at a Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum roundtable on the first day of the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Steel Standards Principles, developed by standard setting bodies, international organizations, steel producers and industry associations, recognize that the iron and steel sector accounts for approximately 8% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and that these emissions will need to be reduced by at least 90% for the sector to play a credible role in achieving climate targets.

The Principles call for establishing common methodologies on measuring greenhouse gas emissions within the iron and steel sector in order to accelerate the transition to near-zero emissions.  Improving the transparency, interoperability and mutual recognition of such methodologies can promote investment in, and adoption of, innovative near-zero emission technologies and products, while easing trade frictions that arise from divergent and incompatible measurement standards.

At the roundtable, the Director-General announced the WTO Secretariat's support and said: "Fragmented and uncoordinated trade policies make it harder for the steel industry to decarbonize. They add uncertainty for producers, hamper cross-border movement of green technologies and inputs, and slow investments in clean technology."

More than 35 key steel producers, industry associations, standard setting bodies, international organizations and initiatives have endorsed the Steel Standards Principles.

Annie Heaton, CEO of ResponsibleSteel, a multistakeholder standard and certification initiative, said: "The diversity of standards for measuring steel carbon emissions makes assessing how one tonne of steel compares to another extremely challenging. The Steel Standards Principles establish the key foundations of a common framework that is needed for driving the decarbonisation of the industry globally."

Nicola Davidson, Vice President for Sustainable Development and Corporate Communications at steel producer ArcelorMittal, said the Principles "will help create broader alignment on how to define low carbon steel. This is particularly important in a hard to abate sector like steel."

"Many people probably don't realise that there is not just one way to make steel and different steels have different carbon footprints depending on the input metallics and the technology. A system that recognises this is important, particularly when the transition to net zero will take many years," she said.

The Steel Standards Principles recognize that collaborative and constructive dialogue is needed across developed and developing economies as well as among governments, producers, industry associations and policymakers to refine the existing emissions standards landscape for steel.


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