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India’s iron and steel industry capable of emitting less and producing more: CSE

CSE conducts stakeholder meet on decarbonising India’s iron and steel sector. Underlines the need for better planning, new technologies and adequate finance to help the sector make the much-needed shift in today’s climate-stressed world

Bhiwadi/New Delhi: “The iron and steel industry is an emission-intensive sector. Our new analysis shows it is possible to bring down carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our iron and steel sector drastically by 2030, while more than doubling India’s output of steel. We can emit even less than what we do today. But this will need planning, technology and adequate funds,” said Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), speaking at a day-long stakeholder workshop organised by CSE here today on ‘Decarbonising India’s Iron and Steel Sector by 2030 and Beyond’.

The workshop discussions were based on CSE’s latest report on the subject — Decarbonizing India: Iron and Steel Sector – which gives detailed insights into GHG emissions from the sector and its future emission scenarios (for 2030). The speakers and participants included – besides Narain – Ruchika Chaudhry Govil, additional secretary, Union ministry of steel, Government of India; Richa Sharma, additional secretary, Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, Government of India; Parmjeet Singh, additional industrial advisor, Union ministry of steel, Government of India; Andrew Purvis, director, World Steel Association; and some top industry representatives. Said Nivit Yadav, programme director, industrial pollution, CSE: “The iron and steel sector is a hard-to-abate sector in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; at the same time, it is a critical contributor to the economic development of the country. Globally, the sector accounts for some 7 per cent of total GHG emissions; in India, the sector’s share is 5 per cent (as per the latest Biennial Update Report (BUR) submitted to UNFCCC in 2016).”

The workshop navigated the issues of fuel shift, low carbon technology, energy efficiency, increasing generation and usage of steel scrap and carbon capture utilisation and storage for the Indian iron and steel sector. Giving CSE’s opening presentation, Parth Kumar, programme manager, industrial pollution, CSE, said: “Countries like India need to grow and develop at a time when the world is running out of carbon budget to stay below the guardrail of 1.5°C temperature rise. Given the conundrum, the crucial question that we should all ask is how can India ensure the double benefits of reduced emissions and growth? While energy efficiency is a significant low hanging fruit for decarbonisation, we recommend a fuel shift to alternate/cleaner fuels for reducing carbon emissions from the sector. The challenge that lies ahead for us is to make cleaner fuels affordable and available.”

Another prominent pathway advocated by CSE in its report is increasing the use of steel scrap. India is making efforts to increase its domestic steel scrap generation through various sources like vehicles, construction, shipping etc, especially with the passage of the Steel Scrap Recycling Policy and the Vehicular Scrappage Policy. Said Yadav: “We need to ensure effective implementation of these policies that would lead to increased generation of good quality steel scrap along with encouraging India’s steel producers to move towards optimum scrap usage in steel production.”

As the sector plans to double its production by 2030 with 60-65 per cent production based on coal-intensive technology — blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) — steel players are actively considering the option of carbon capture utilisation and storage. At the workshop, the panellists elaborated on the national and international scenarios for economic and technological viability of CCUS for the sector.

CSE’s recommendations for the sector

  • Switch over to cleaner fuels – in the case of BF-BOF, the use of natural-gas injection or hydrogen to reduce the use of coal is recommended, along with shifting from coal-based DRI to gas-based completely which would have the possibility to further transform to hydrogen-based DRI production.
  • Increase scrap use – better implementation of vehicular and steel scrap policies to generate more scrap along with increasing the amount of recycled steel in production to its optimum in both production technologies.
  • Implement carbon capture utilisation and storage in the BF-BOF route to bring down coal-based emissions.
  • Organise the finance – a switchover to new fuels and technologies would require finance. The government and steel industry should work towards a combined proposal for international climate finance.

Speaking on the occasion, Ruchika Govil from the ministry of steel said that the ministry has welcomed CSE’s recommendations, and is willing to work with CSE to make the steel sector less carbon-intensive.

“The bottom line is that it is possible to bend the CO2 curve even for a sector like iron and steel. Countries like India can develop while drastically reducing their GHG emissions. The only question is if the rich world will accept the imperative of climate justice and provide the funds for the technology transformation necessary for a future-ready industry,” said Narain while concluding the workshop.


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