ResponsibleSteel and SteelZero: Aligning action to drive the steel industry toward net zero

What does SteelZero do? What sets the initiative apart from ResponsibleSteel? And how do we work together to drive the steel industry’s net-zero transition? Let’s answer these key questions.

SteelZero is a global initiative working to speed up the transition to a net-zero steel industry. While ResponsibleSteel provides a pathway for steelmakers and a forum to bring the steel supply chain together in pursuit of a responsible industry, SteelZero mobilises steel buyers to aggregate and amplify the voice of the demand side.

How do they do this? Businesses that join SteelZero must make a public commitment to use lower emissions steel for 50% of their steel requirement by 2030, which sets a clear pathway to achieving 100% net-zero steel by 2050 at the latest. This interim commitment includes purchasing lower emissions steel which is aligned to ResponsibleSteel’s Decarbonisation Progress Level 2.

Any business that uses, specifies, or procures steel and is looking to address its emissions is eligible to join SteelZero. Likewise, SteelZero members can also choose to join ResponsibleSteel to work with steelmakers and other members of the value chain to help shape ResponsibleSteel’s standards. One can’t underestimate the impact these commitments are having. For the first time, steel-using businesses are creating and expanding the market for lower emissions and near-zero emissions steel. They’re saying to their suppliers, you can have the confidence, as well as the business rationale, to invest in the net-zero transition and new ways of steelmaking which do away with fossil fuels. Because who are steelmakers going to listen to more than their customers?

Over 40 businesses and counting including the likes of Ørsted, Volvo Cars, and Maersk have already joined SteelZero and set themselves clear time-bound pathways to clean up their steel-related emissions. The demand is clear and accelerating all the time. As it has to. Now, steelmakers must accelerate their efforts to decarbonise and scale up supply of lower emissions steel to achieve the reductions needed by 2030.

So how do ResponsibleSteel and SteelZero work together?

SteelZero and ResponsibleSteel’s work is like two sides of the same coin. Both organisations are dedicated to achieving the same goal, but what sets them apart is the area of the value chain they focus on, the angle at which they’re trying to mobilise action, to make it happen.

But a central question to the transition is what do we mean by lower emissions and near-zero emissions steel? What emissions intensity do these classifications constitute? Just as we need industry alignment between steelmakers and steel users on this to get us to a net-zero industry, ResponsibleSteel and SteelZero are aligning their action to unlock this potential.

Steel users need to know what they’re asking for once they’ve made their SteelZero commitment – what specifically do I need from my supplier for it to qualify as lower emissions steel and help me meet my commitment? And steelmakers need to know what their customers want so they can align operations and investments to meet customer demands. There can be no room for interpretation leaving space for uncertainty, delays, and inaction. All business and investment decisions need to be laser-focused on the most effective action.

Figure: ResponsibleSteel Decarbonisation Levels (ResponsibleSteel International Production Standard Version 2.1)

As partner to SteelZero, ResponsibleSteel works directly with the initiative to do this. ResponsibleSteel has developed an International Production Standard through a transparent multistakeholder process and extensive data research to determine what constitutes an equitable, effective global framework to drive the steel industry's decarbonisation. SteelZero uses the emissions intensity thresholds in the ResponsibleSteel’s International Production Standard to help its members to answer the question: What do I need from my supplier for it to qualify as lower emissions steel and help me meet my commitment?

By holding members accountable to commitment pathways aligned with ResponsibleSteel, consumers (SteelZero members) can be confident that the commitment they’re making is in alignment with best practice and will genuinely help them get the solutions they need to clean up their supply chains whilst supporting equitable, sector-wide decarbonisation globally. Through a strong focus on engaging with its members, SteelZero can drive that action, fast.

This is why collaboration and alignment are so critical. Together SteelZero and ResponsibleSteel are collectively setting best practice for steel users and steel suppliers to achieve a net-zero steel industry.

Learn more about SteelZero.

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