U.S. Steel’s Far-Off Emissions Goal Requires Radical Overhaul


U.S. Steel Corp. is setting a goal to zero out its direct emissions by 2050 in an effort that would require the steelmaker to radically overhaul its entire business.

The announcement by the Pittsburgh-based company is the most aggressive emissions goal yet by an American steelmaker, and would include so-called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. The two types encompass a firm’s direct emissions and those from the power it consumes. The target doesn’t include emissions from the supply chain.

Steelmaking is one of the world’s most polluting industries, accounting for about 6% of global carbon dioxide emissions and 8% of energy related emissions, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Most of U.S. Steel’s production is made from older, dirtier integrated mills.

“By announcing our net-zero goal, U.S. Steel is committing to doing our part to support the U.N. Paris Agreement on climate change to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2050,” Chief Executive Officer Dave Burritt said in a statement Wednesday. “We believe that we have a path forward that allows us to profitably produce sustainable steels well into the future.”

The company this past year completed the purchase of an electric arc furnace, a more modern steelmaking technology that remelts scrap metal and turns it into new products. Columbia University says electric arc furnace production is the simplest way to decarbonize, but this type only accounts for about a quarter of all of U.S. Steel’s production, according to Keybanc Capital Markets, with integrated mills accounting for the rest.

How it intends to get to reduce emissions will be a concern among investors, who are already focused on capital expenditure outlays of more than $1 billion to maintain its aging assets. While U.S. Steel’s plan doesn’t include Scope 3 emissions, the company said the plan strengthens support for customer and supplier implementation of their own net-zero targets, to ensure process inputs and steel use conform to those goals.

ArcelorMittal SA, one of the world’s largest steelmakers, last month launched a carbon offset program that offers certificates to allow buyers to reduce their own carbon footprint.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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