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US Climate Action Summit 2024

US Climate Action Summit: Insights for the implementation of the industry transition

6 June 2024, 9:00 UTC 4 min read

At US Climate Action Summit (USCAS) in April, getting into the detail of how we can effectively and equitably implement the steel and concrete net zero transitions was of paramount importance. Across three sessions - Emerging Technologies, Low-Carbon Building Codes, and Public-Private Partnerships - attention never strayed from accelerating progress on implementing historic climate action through partnerships and tangible solutions across state, federal, business, and community leadership.

We brought together key stakeholders including SteelZero and ConcreteZero members, government representatives, and steel and concrete producers to drive real outcomes and discuss decarbonisation strategies within rich knowledge-led and collaborative sessions. Check out our summary of the Summit below.

Emerging Technologies

As the title of the session suggests, this session was all about how we can scale up emerging technologies that will make the decarbonisation of steel and concrete production possible, such as green hydrogen in direct reduction iron facilities. Participants emphasised the need to scale up innovation and the role industry frontrunners from both the supply and demand sides can play to signal the need for investment to the market. There was also mention of the role governments can play to help marshal the scaling up of cutting-edge technologies by signalling their support. This type of support provides the much-needed confidence and certainty to the transition that the wider value chain needs.

But the focus wasn't just about implementation. It was about implementation done right. There was equal focus given to the importance of bringing communities along with us, with agreement on the need to consider the impact and importance of integrating labour and community considerations into the adoption of these technologies, such as integrating Community Benefits Plans.

Overall, the session highlighted the importance of collaboration, and shared best practice on how key players from across the value chain must communicate with one another to scale up emerging technologies at the speed we need, and in the equitable manner required.

Low-Carbon Building Codes

Once again, focus was on the role policy can play to provide pathways and certainty, giving confidence to the private sector to invest by supporting and unlocking the adoption of low-carbon building codes. Focus also turned to the need for convergence in standards. Participants remarked on the need for national definitions and standards to be homogenised for zero-emission buildings to overcome the obstacles and challenges that differences in codes across localities and regions present for implementation.

Further, the need for a holistic approach was highlighted. In both integrating resilience and emissions reductions into codes, and, in a way which struck home the value of this joint session between our EP100 and Industry teams, the need for codes that integrate and require emissions reductions for both operational and embodied emissions.

Finally, focus once more turned to the critical role of the demand side in signalling companies want to invest and decarbonise as a pathway towards catalysing the market.

Overall, the session underlined the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for coordinated efforts across sectors to achieve meaningful progress on building emissions.

Public-Private Partnerships

The meeting convened a diverse group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors for a session emphasising the importance of frontline interactions in a private sector-led, government-enabled transition. Discussion emphasised the need for policy to be this enabler, by reducing friction and increasing speed amidst heightened conversation volume and unprecedented funding. The critical role of local government leadership on this was highlighted, with a number of participants advocating for ambitious state action on embodied carbon, citing California's transformative green building rules and clean concrete purchasing bill.  

Participants also highlighted pilots based on draft standards and the need for convergence on standards and data quality control, noting progress driven by the increase in the number of EPDs and companies transitioning suppliers.

Overall, the meeting showcased efforts across sectors to accelerate sustainability transitions, acknowledging challenges like standardisation, data reliability, and aligning federal, state, and private sector commitments.

Let's drive the implementation agenda

Across all our Industry sessions, we looked to accelerate progress within the historic opportunity for climate action in the United States. Finding solutions to the challenges of implementing the steel and concrete net zero transitions is paramount. We know what we must achieve to get our steel and concrete industries aligned with climate goals. And we need to get to work implementing it at scale now. But it's not just about getting it done. It's about getting it done right.

Collective action involving all stakeholders, from local communities, local governments, all the way to national and corporate leaders will allow us to find solutions, remove blockages to action, and create common understanding of the action we need to take. This way, we can achieve historic climate progress with an effective and equitable industry transition. Let's Make it Real.

Find out more about our Industry work here.