Decarbonising the steel industry #StandingTogether22

As delivered to Community’s Biennial Delegate Conference in Belfast on June 1st 2022.

Conference, Alan Coombs speaking on Composite L on decarbonising the steel industry on behalf of the National Executive.

Conference, the global steel market is currently worth an estimated $2.5 trillion and produces 9% of global emissions. There is a common misconception of steel as a climate problem, when in fact steel is vital for any climate solution. However, the steel industry cannot hope to do their bit alone, and government support will be needed to deliver this.

We are the steelworkers’ union, and we will show why steel can and must be integral to the solution to the climate crisis.

The Labour Party has previously committed to a 10-year £3bn green steel fund, including a long-term plan to achieve near zero emission steel production by 2035, with a Labour government match-funding projects for the development of clean steelmaking. It would also meet up to half the cost of helping industry roll out capital investment in new steel processing equipment.

The government should be similarly ambitious, put its money where its mouth is and invest properly in greening our steel industry. It is both possible and preferable, it just needs the financial backing to do so.

With the UK’s two blast-furnace based producers coming to a key point in their long investment cycle, now is the time for a transformative surge in investment to secure the sector’s future as a world-leader in green steel, based on an ambitious, credible industrial pathway toward decarbonisation.

The HYBRIT plant in Sweden, based on investment by the Swedish government and a Finnish publicly-owned steelmaker, is on the path to becoming one of the first net-zero steel producers globally.

There is no doubt a strong and sustainable British steel industry is vital for delivering our climate objectives.

Building back better and greener is going to require millions of tonnes of steel, and government must back us to seize this one-off opportunity.

Conference, in backing this motion, Community will continue to lobby government for a clear and defined roadmap to a cleaner, greener future for the steel industry, as well as ensuring the steel industry is supported to meet the promises of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

We will also lobby central government to ensure that commercial borders are both protected and not allowed to be undermined by iron and steel producers whose governments fail to adhere to the 2015 Paris agreement.

The window to prevent catastrophic damage to our planet is closing rapidly. We can decarbonise our steel industry, and work towards a net zero future. Time is of the essence, and we need to act quickly. Thank you.

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