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New SteelZero initiative receives backing from major businesses, ramping up demand for clean steelmaking

1 December 2020, 9:00 GMT 7 min read

Tuesday 1 December, London: SteelZero, a global initiative aimed at driving market demand for net zero steel has launched today with support from eight major steel buyers and specifiers from across sectors including construction and renewable energy.

This marks the beginning of a significant global business push for clean steel, with the first companies to have signed up to SteelZero entailing: 

  • BHC Ltd – leading UK structural steel fabrication and construction company.
  • Bourne Group Ltd – leading UK constructional steelwork company.
  • Grosvenor Britain & Ireland – international property investor and developer.
  • Lendlease – multinational construction, property and infrastructure company. 
  • Mace Group – global consultancy and construction firm.
  • Multiplex Construction Europe – international construction contractor. 
  • Ørsted – renewable energy company and global leader in offshore wind. 
  • WSP UK - engineering professional services consulting firm.

Run in partnership with ResponsibleSteel, the new initiative comes from international non-profit the Climate Group, which has already seen success in delivering multinational campaigns that build corporate demand for renewables (RE100) and electric vehicles (EV100). Today RE100 members are driving enough renewable electricity demand to power a G20 country like Indonesia, and EV100 members have committed 5 million EVs to being on roads by 2030.

In the case of SteelZero, organisations are required to make a public commitment to transition to procuring, specifying or stocking 100% net zero steel by 2050 . Targeting net zero steel from the demand-side of the supply chain makes this initiative the first of its kind, with the potential for it to have significant impact on investment, policy, manufacturing and production in the sector.

Jenny Chu, Head of Energy Productivity Initiatives at international non-profit the Climate Group, says: “The steel industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change. We need to see much greater investment and progress to cutting emissions, but steelmakers also need to know their customers will buy new, cleaner products. By harnessing the collective purchasing power and influence of major steel-using organisations, SteelZero will send a critical demand signal that can shift global markets and policies towards sustainable production and sourcing of steel.”

Alison Lucas, Executive Director at ResponsibleSteel, says: “Corporate and public sector demand for responsible, zero emissions steel has a critical role to play in reducing global emissions, encouraging decarbonisation technologies and driving lower emissions from recycled steel and the re-use of steel-based products. SteelZero will help us to get there.”

Steel is the world’s most widely used material, with the sector selling over $2 trillion worth of products annually . But despite technologies existing for production to be decarbonised, steelmaking is currently one of the biggest emitters of CO2 globally. Total greenhouse gas emissions from the sector alone account for 7% – 9% of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuels , and this is set to rise significantly with end-use demand for steel projected to grow by almost 40% by 2050 . 

A recent report by CDP estimates that 14% of steel companies’ potential value is at risk if they’re unable to decrease their environmental impact, and investors are already raising concerns that the steel industry needs to act now to safeguard its future. As a result, steel-using organisations will need to be prepared for inevitable changes across their supply chains if they’re to remain economically competitive in the transition to a low carbon world.

Alongside the commitment requirements, SteelZero also aims to encourage action and to support organisations in their journey to net zero steel. Members will be invited to join working groups to assist them in developing a roadmap to fulfil their commitment to net zero steel.

Quotes from SteelZero members:

Brian Hewitt, Managing Director at BHC, says: “BHC are proud to support the Climate Group's SteelZero initiative by committing to procuring 100% net zero steel by 2050. As a leading UK Steel Fabricator, capable of producing over 800 tonnes per week, we recognise the importance of reducing carbon emissions. Over the past five years, BHC have invested heavily in sustainability. At present we generate our own power and heat using a 500kW wind turbine and biomass systems. BHC are 72% self-sufficient allowing us to fabricate steelwork with up to 49% less associated carbon emissions in comparison to a similar sized structural steel fabricator.”

Nigel Moss, Group Development Director at Bourne Group, says: “The Bourne Group are very pleased to add a voice to the demand call for the decarbonisation of global steel production. Steel currently delivers to a truly circular economy with its unique re-use and near total recyclability. With the support of the steel producers continuing their efforts to decarbonise and eventually achieve SteelZero, we believe that structural steel will maintain its foremost position as the economic and effective construction material of choice.”

Michael Lytrides, Director of Project Management at Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, says: “At Grosvenor, we place sustainability at the heart of our thinking and decision-making. Our supply chain’s actions and capacity are critical to driving down embodied carbon across our developments. We’re excited to be one of the first partners of SteelZero, leading the transition towards a responsible, net zero steel industry.”

Cate Harris, Group Head of Sustainability & Lendlease Foundation at Lendlease, says: “At Lendlease, we are on a journey to tackle the climate crisis. There’s never been a more important time for our industry to come together to set ambitious global targets and collaborate to drive meaningful action. Important initiatives such as SteelZero will create pathways towards achieving these targets and support industry transformation.”

Jakob Askou Bøss, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy & Stakeholder Relations at Ørsted, says: “As one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies, we’ve set the ambition to decarbonise our entire supply chain by 2040. Without low-carbon steel, that will not be possible. With SteelZero, we want to make it clear to the steel industry that we are ready to be part of the journey of innovation and collaboration to get there.” 

Mark Reynolds, CEO of Mace Group, says: “Everyone working in the built environment sector today has a clear and urgent responsibility to accelerate our response to the climate emergency. The traditional manufacture of steel – one of the most widely used materials in construction – generates a huge amount of global carbon each year, and so this new commitment is a significant step forward for the industry. We’re proud to be one of the first signatories to the SteelZero commitment and we look forward to working with our clients, partners and supply chain to push this agenda forward.”

Steve Smith, Executive Director SHEQ of Multiplex, says: “Multiplex is committed to decarbonising the built environment and tackling the climate and biodiversity emergency. We have already aligned our European operations to a 1.5ºC science-based target and joining the SteelZero initiative is another step forward on the journey we are taking with our clients and supply chain partners to reach net-zero.”

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability at WSP, said: “Achieving net zero by 2050 and decarbonising the UK’s built environment will be the result of many decisive interventions taking place simultaneously. Removing carbon from the materials we use to construct buildings and infrastructure is possibly the most meaningful action we can take, and so we are delighted to be supporting this exciting initiative.

“Driving market demand for net zero steel aligns perfectly with WSP’s commitment to halve the carbon footprint of all designs and advice provided to our clients by 2030, a first in the engineering consultancy sector, and we encourage other designers to join us in specifying more sustainable and low-carbon materials as part of their designs. 

“Our sector needs to drive change and lead the way towards the UK’s net zero target and it is now clearer than ever that carbon reductions are needed today, not tomorrow, if we are going to make a difference in tackling the climate emergency.”

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries, please contact Katie Rogers, Senior Communications Adviser at the Climate Group, krogers@theclimategroup.org 

For more information about SteelZero, including how to join, please contact Jim Norris, SteelZero Project Manager at the Climate Group, jnorris@theclimategroup.org 

About SteelZero

SteelZero is a global initiative bringing together forward-looking organisations to speed up the transition to a net zero steel industry. Led by international non-profit the Climate Group in partnership with ResponsibleSteel, organisations that join SteelZero make a public commitment to procure, specify or stock 100% net zero steel by 2050. By harnessing their collective purchasing power and influence, SteelZero is sending a strong demand signal to shift global markets and policies towards responsible production and sourcing of steel. #SteelZero

About The Climate Group 

The Climate Group drives climate action. Fast. Our goal is a world of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with greater prosperity for all. We focus on systems with the highest emissions and where our networks have the greatest opportunity to drive change. We do this by building large and influential networks and holding organisations accountable, turning their commitments into action. We share what we achieve together to show more organisations what they could do. We are an international non-profit organisation, founded in 2004, with offices in London, New Delhi and New York. We are proud to be part of the We Mean Business coalition. Follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup.

About ResponsibleSteel 

ResponsibleSteel’s mission is to maximise steel’s contribution to a sustainable society. A not for profit organisation, ResponsibleSteel is the industry’s first global multi-stakeholder standard and certification initiative. With members from every stage of the steel supply chain, ResponsibleSteel is developing an independent certification standard to ensure businesses and consumers can be confident that they steel they use as been sourced and produced responsibly at every stage.