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Steel industry ramps up green efforts to achieve net-zero goal

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-05-26 08:54
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An employee polishes steel products at a Baowu Steel production facility in Maanshan, Anhui province, on March 5. LUO JISHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

BEIJING-Forging ahead toward a greener future, China is ever more committed to transforming its steel industry into a low carbon-emitting one amid the global economy's march toward producing net-zero carbon emissions.

As China has promised to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the steel industry remains the largest emitter among all manufacturing sectors in China, accounting for about 15 percent of the annual domestic carbon footprint.

The industry, therefore, plays a crucial role in helping the country live up to its carbon-cutting pledges.

But its green shift is far from effortless. Latest data showed that China's crude steel output rose 15.6 percent year-on-year to 271 million metric tons in the first quarter, putting a burden on its carbon-cutting undertaking.

Under the circumstance, the country has vowed further efforts to reduce crude steel output to ensure it falls (on a yearly basis) this year. Measures have also been tailored to encourage endeavors nationwide in this regard.

One of the latest moves came on May 1, when China applied a provisional zero import tax rate on pig iron, crude steel, recycled steel raw materials and ferrochrome.

According to a circular issued by the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, the adjustment is expected to reduce import costs, expand steel imports, support domestic producers to cut crude steel output, and guide the industry to cut energy consumption.

Also, export tariffs on ferrosilicon, ferrochrome, and high-purity pig iron would be raised to 25 percent, 20 percent, and 15 percent, respectively.

The export policy adjustment is necessary because there is no reason to continue exporting numerous ordinary products given China's highly limited resources, said He Wenbo, executive director of the China Iron and Steel Industry Association (CISA). He said domestic supply is key.

Apart from tightened control over steel production, the country is stepping up efforts to carry out structural adjustments, shut down outdated production facilities and improve energy utilization rates, the CISA said.

China's steelmakers have taken action. A case in point is China Baowu Steel Group Corp Ltd, the world's largest steel conglomerate. In January, it announced its aim to have carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2023, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2035, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

To support green development, policymakers have also urged the industry to upgrade its industrial structure and production modes.

According to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), China will further optimize its raw material sector structure involving petrochemical, steel, and non-ferrous metals and construction materials. Efforts will also speed up the green transformation of such sectors.

For this purpose, the steel industry should stick to a green, low-carbon path for development, and keep improving raw materials, technologies, and energy structures, said Huang Dao, an official with the CISA.

"Efforts must be made to break the bottlenecks of low-carbon technologies and promote the use of non-fossil energies in the steel industry, particularly hydrogen energy," Huang said.

Downstream companies should also be encouraged to use upgraded steel products that are more durable and recyclable, Huang said, calling for more steel structure buildings in urban areas.

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