Decarbonisation of the Steel & Cement Industry – The Biggest Polluters

World leaders from 197 nations are meeting at COP27 in Egypt to work together and ensure that nations commit to going more green to save our earth for future generations. They have been meeting regularly since 1995 and this is their twenty seventh meeting. One of the burning issues the world is facing today is carbon emissions from steel and cement manufacturing plants. The 11th of November is *Decarbonisation Day* at COP27 and it is important to understand the urgency to cut down carbon emission globally.

Understanding The Largest Contributors Of CO2

CO2 or Carbon dioxide, is among the biggest drivers of climate change globally, and the industrial manufacturing segment is the single biggest offender. According to Brookings Institution, heavy industries, such as the cement and steel industries contribute to about 40% of carbon dioxide emitted globally. This makes the cement and steel industry the leading polluters globally.

There is an urgent need for the steel and cement industry to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions to save the planet and help to combat global warming.

What Is Decarbonisation

*Decarbonisation* is a method of lowering the *carbon intensity*, by reducing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions generated from the use of fossil fuels. Generally, it involves lowering the carbon dioxide output on a per unit basis of the electricity generated.

Steel And Cement Industry Pollutions Levels

It’s unthinkable to live in a world where steel and cement isn’t used. Steel is used in practically everything, from building major infrastructure to household items and kitchenware. Whereas cement, being the prime ingredient in making concrete, is the second biggest consumed resource after water globally.

Approximately 2 bn tons of steel is produced each year globally, and it contributes to about 8% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted globally. Cement adds another 6% to the total carbon dioxide emission globally.

The need for steel and cement is set to grow over 33% by 2050. It is imperative that steel and cement industries make decarbonisation a priority and align to the goals set at COP27.

To live up to the climate commitments set by COP, the steel industry must bring down the carbon dioxide emissions by at least 30% by 2030. Whereas, for the cement industry to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, the industry will need to work on technical limitations and deploy use of carbon dioxide capture and storage technology.

Carbon emissions globally from cement and steel production need to decrease by over 90% by 2050. It’s critical that the industry deploys new technologies in order to achieve these goals.

Challenges That Lay Ahead

Currently there are no commercial steel or cement production sites in the world that have net-zero or near net-zero emissions.

To achieve decarbonisation goals, the cement and steel industries will need to deploy multiple strategies in parallel, such as:

  • Managing the demand by leveraging circular economy principles and market creation
  • Improving energy efficiencies by using technological advances
  • Implementing tectonic shift in production ways and technology deployment

It’s s not going to be easy or cheap for the steel and cement industries to make this shift. However, as time goes on, the cost of technology and deployment of energy efficient options will significantly reduce.


Given that steel and cement industries are capital intensive, developing new production plants requires large investments. As a result, it is important for steel and cement manufacturers to plan their upcoming new production plants to support and further support decarbonisation