lørdag 13. november 2021

Without Coal, What Happens to Cement, Steel, Iron — and Asia’s Path to Development?

One of the highlights of this year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference, COP26, has been that over 40 countries pledged to phase out coal from the power sector. However, beyond power generation, some of the most heavy-polluting, fossil fuel-reliant industries are steel, iron, cement, and concrete – the same industries that are crucial to aspirations of development in Asia and beyond.

While developed countries have moved away from the secondary economy (manufacturing) to the tertiary economy (services), developing countries are expected to witness rapid growth in infrastructure projects in the coming years. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has noted that as the populations and GDPs grow in developing countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa, demand for steel, cement, and concrete will increase.

The focus on a just transition for cleaner energy and the rapid phase-out of coal has been at the heart of COP26, and is seen as crucial in the attempt to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius in accordance with the Paris Agreement. However, the focus on the power sector meant the second largest source of carbon emissions – heavy industry – didn’t attract enough attention.