Carbon Emissions by India’s Steel Sector to Triple by 2050

India’s steel industry is set to more than triple its carbon footprint by 2050 as demand for the metal in the world’s second-biggest producer soars.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry are projected to jump to 837 million tons over the next three decades from 242 million tons now as India’s demand for steel more than quadruples to about 490 million tons, The Energy and Resources Institute said in a report. It will also contribute more than a third of the nation’s total fossil fuel combustion emissions from 12% currently.

India currently has 977 steel plants and is one of the few brights spots for demand globally as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration rolls out a plan to spend about $1.5 trillion to upgrade and build infrastructure over the next five years. Steel is the biggest carbon dioxide emitter among Indian industries.

“If India is serious about mitigating carbon dioxide emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change, then serious action needs to be taken in the iron and steel sector,” Will Hall, associate fellow at TERI, said in an emailed reply to Bloomberg. “While there has been great success in the electricity sector with the growth of wind and solar, action in heavy industry, like iron and steel, will be more challenging.”

Steelmakers Are Next in the Crosshairs as Climate Pressure Grows

In the near-term, mills should maximize the use of domestic scrap steel, improve energy efficiency and establish pilot plants to test emerging low carbon technologies, Hall said.

In addition, introducing a penalty for emissions in the steel sector from 2030 onward would send a clear signal to the industry to start planning for deeper decarbonization technologies, according to TERI. Substitution of coal or natural gas as a reducing agent with hydrogen would also allow India to reduce its import dependency while cutting emissions, it said.