6. Responsible energy user that helps create a lower carbon future

Steel is an energy – and carbon-intensive industry. As the world’s largest steel producer, we have one of the world’s largest corporate carbon footprints. We want our stakeholders to trust us that we are cutting our energy consumption and carbon emissions wherever we can. However, our focus is not just on our own processes: through innovation and new product development we are also helping our customers find ways to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Why is this important to us?

Energy efficiency is not only an effective first response to reducing carbon emissions: it also reduces costs, not only for us but those who make use of our steel. Continued research into energy efficiency and other low carbon technologies is also vital to enable the changes society is looking for.

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

Energy costs flow straight to our bottom line – our energy bill in North America rose by around $350 million in the first half of 2014, after the worst winter in 50 years forced up the price of gas – and so energy efficiency is a key part of our response. More than most other industries, the steel industry would be significantly affected by an increase in the price of carbon or more stringent emissions trading schemes, but national or regional schemes will only move the problem elsewhere, so we are convinced that a global solution is needed rather than different regional schemes. 

What do we need to do?

The rising cost of energy is a business risk which we can and do mitigate, for example, by using and recovering energy more efficiently in our steel and mining operations or by exporting our waste heat for the benefit of others. We also need to continue to research new technology that could make the steelmaking process less energy and carbon-intensive, while doing everything we can to ensure our steel is fully recycled, so that we can maximize the potential to reduce carbon emissions over its full lifecycle. We also continue our work on more sustainable product design and need to do more to measure the value of our steel over its entire lifecycle.

What is the potential to create value?

We’re already saving a lot through our energy efficiency measures at our steel plants, making our business and our customers more resilient to future increases in energy prices. If our research develops further technologies to reduce energy consumption, this resilience will be enhanced. In our products, meanwhile, our specialised lightweight steel is already creating value in the automotive industry by helping vehicles to reduce fuel consumption; and our electrical steels are enabling huge improvements in energy efficiency in the power generation sector and in electric cars.

Our stakeholders’ expectations

As regulation increases and its scope widens, companies are expected to be more transparent about how much energy they use, how much carbon they emit, and how their products and supply chain perform in both of these areas. Shareholders, consumers and increasingly our customers are expecting this too and as a result, the European Union is developing more ambitious carbon targets for 2030. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) will be one way of achieving these targets, and policymakers expect us to share our understanding with them about how these schemes will work in reality. The EU ETS is the first such scheme around the world: Kazakhstan, Quebec and Mexico are following suit. In South Africa, a bill to tax carbon dioxide emissions is under discussion, and in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has taken the first steps towards implementing a comprehensive greenhouse gas policy. The need to address these expectations is one reason why ISO50001 – the energy management standard designed to help organisations improve their energy performance – is possibly the most rapidly implemented ISO standard there’s ever been.

The outcome we need

We are trusted to minimise energy use and carbon emissions by every means that is technically and commercially possible. We develop innovative products that help other industries to reduce carbon emissions and drive carbon and energy improvements in our steel production. And our stakeholders see us as contributing positively to a lower-carbon future.

Achieving our new outcome

Achieving this outcome will involve building on our existing approach to energy and carbon research, ensuring a joined up approach to energy and carbon across our operations, taking into account the expectations of our customers, investors, regulators and employees, as well as long-term global thinking on climate change. We are asking the management of all our operations to review and plan their approach in line with our sustainable development framework.

What's new?

News 21.09.2016 Steel goes circular: The Circular Building
Our Stories01.05.2016 Steel goes circular: re-using sheet piles
Our Stories01.04.2016 Fertile thinking: farmers benefiting from steel slag
Our Stories01.04.2016 Clearing the air: new products for indoor environments
Our Stories01.04.2016 New ideas, new technology: interns in Argentina
Our Stories01.04.2016 Collaboration on the Great Lakes
Our Stories01.04.2016 Getting on the front foot in Ostrava: dealing with dust
Our Stories01.01.2015 Engineering low-carbon solutions for buildings
Our Stories01.01.2015 Sustain Our Great Lakes
Our Stories01.01.2015 Measuring impact in South Africa
Our Stories01.01.2015 Liberia: Mobilising the response to Ebola
Insight30.05.2015 Steel packaging and the circular economy
SD Update19.01.2017 Gender diversity award for ArcelorMittal Ostrava
SD Update31.10.2016 Moroccan steelmaker heads for 90% wind-powered steel
SD Update10.10.2016 Largest exporter in Bosnia & Herzegovina
SD Update25.09.2016 Judiciary honour for social outreach work in Brazil
SD Update27.06.2016 ArcelorMittal assesses contribution to South Africa
SD Update16.05.2016 Nafta: review of 2015
SD Update13.05.2016 How does ArcelorMittal create value for society?
SD Update03.12.2015 Presenting lightweight solutions at Megatrends India
SD Update12.11.2015 The building you can build again and again
SD Update30.07.2015 Building for the future: the b home