In 2015 the international community agreed to a 2°C limit to global warming. As carbon dioxide (C02) is the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming, industries that are significant emitters of C02 need to decarbonise in order to successfully meet this target. As the production of steel accounts for 8% of global C02 emissions,the industry's decarbonisation is of critical importance.
This paper examines the previously unexplored relationship between the level of atmospheric carbon,the C0 2 emitted from steel production processes,and the dynamics of the global demand for steel. Scenario-based modelling shows that if the rate of steel production continues as estimated, and the current technologies for producing steel remain unchanged, the steel industry will have consumed its share of the remaining global carbon budget within 20 years. This has not previously been quantified. On the other hand, efforts to reduce emissions through reducing the production of steel would have a significant impact on the accumulation of steel stocks, and on the ability of countries to develop.
For the first time,a qualitative assessment of future alternatives for the steel industry is carried out.It shows that retrofitting existing blast furnaces using Top-Gas Recycling with CCS technology, and the substitution of coke for charcoal are feasible options for reducing emissions within a reasonable timeframe; while many other technologies are not.
Re-running the scenario-models with the inclusion of these technologies shows a significant decline in emissions per tonne of steel, thereby increasing the amount of steel that can be produced for a given carbon budget.
Finally, it shows that if these technologies are used together, the sequestration of carbon dioxide emitted from sustainable charcoal would introduce negative emissions into the system, thereby reducing C02 emissions and permitting global demand for steel to be met, without surpassing the industry's emissions budget. This is an important new insight.