German steel pact calls for ‘leading green’ markets

Germany’s industrial policy ought to encourage the creation of “…leading green markets” with incentives for buyers of recyclable products made based on environmentally friendly principles. So says Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, president of steel federation WV Stahl.

“Steel users should be rewarded when they use green steel,” Kerkhoff says. Emissions avoided could be factored into the final price, he suggests in a statement on the “Handlungskonzept Stahl” steel action plan adopted last week by the German government (see Kallanish passim).

The government is signalling full support for the endeavours of the country’s steel industry to become carbon-neutral. The plan has been worked out together with companies and unions since autumn last year. “This is a premiere in politics,” German economics minister Peter Altmaier said at a press conference attended by Kallanish. “In an intensive dialogue with companies and employees, we have elaborated a joint concept for an industry we consider as very important, with 85,000 direct and many more indirect jobs.”

Kerkhoff, who also spoke at the conference, called the agreement “…a coherent, all-encompassing political concept.” He noted that political campaigning for decarbonisation needs to be carried out at the European level. Among other challenges, the transformation will need high volumes of affordable energy made on the basis of hydrogen, he maintained.

Another speaker was Jürgen Kerner of union IG Metall, who is also representative of employees on the supervisory board of thyssenkrupp. He pointed out the agreement needs to be followed up quickly by subsidy schemes. The sum assumed as long-term investment for the transformation to carbon-neutral steel is €30 billion ($34 billion), according to the economics ministry.