This morning I questioned Climate Change Minister Anne Marie Trevelyan MP in Parliament, urging her to back hydrogen-based steelmaking pilots in the UK as a greener way of manufacturing steel as COP26 approaches.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield and Leeds secured funding to explore new technology and ways to decarbonise the steel industry last year, in order to help meet the Government’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Sheffield’s Liberty Steel is already working on a hydrogen steel plant in France, so I pressed the Government to bring green steel closer to home.
The Government has pledged to consider the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation for near zero-emission iron-ore steelmaking by 2035, but a plan for decarbonising steel production must be published before COP26.
Hydrogen is among the emerging technologies offering solutions – and its use is progressing across the rest of Europe.
The ECIU recently reported on 23 pilot projects planned or live across several countries – producing 10 million tonnes of clean steel annually by 2026.
I reminded the Minister that the “success of the UK Presidency requires leadership at home” and urged her to “say whether the Government is considering hydrogen-based pilots as part of its plan for steel?”
Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Anne Marie Trevelyan MP, responded that Government is “shortly to publish our Hydrogen strategy” but did not commit to UK pilots.
In order to make the ‘rapid, unprecedented and far-reaching transitions‘ that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended, Government has to work with industry to create greener manufacturing – we need investment in practical solutions which reduce our carbon footprint, not just tokenistic gestures.
We are already behind the rest of Europe on transforming steel production and so I’m disappointed that the Minister failed to take the opportunity to commit to green steel pilots in the UK. This lack of leadership threatens our credibility at COP26.