COP27 produces plans for more support for green steel, hydrogen energy transition

Governments of countries which are responsible for half of the global gross domestic product (GDP) outlined new targets for the previously agreed Breakthrough Agenda, a 12-month action plan to accelerate the drive toward decarbonization, delegates heard on Friday November 11 at the United Nations’ COP27 climate change conference in Egypt

Areas for particular priority included the ramping-up of hydrogen production for clean energy purposes, and increasing the procurement of low-carbon material for public infrastructure projects.

As part of the agenda, the governments agreed on a package of actions that would focus on sectors that account for more than 50% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. These areas included the power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture sectors, with results expected to be delivered by COP28, to be held in Dubai in November 2023.

The COP presidency is currently held by the UK. Under that leadership, parties including India, Egypt, the EU and Morocco will form partnerships with specialist organizations to deliver on these targets, supported by private finance.

These announcements clarify and build on commitments made by 45 countries in November 2021, at COP26 in the UK, to help drive accessibility and uptake of a sustainable global economy before 2030.

Plans included enhancing the transparency and credibility of the green steel sector by developing better definitions for low-emission steel and near-zero emissions steel.

Through private and public procurement activity and the buying of green industrial goods, it was hoped that the initiative would stimulate the markets for these alternative materials and justify the high investment costs of the transition to green technologies.

The initiative would also support and expand the development of infrastructure projects, including 100 hydrogen valleys, a collection of cross-border power grid infrastructure projects, and 50 net-zero emissions industrial plants. Hydrogen valleys are discrete areas where the use of hydrogen energy is made easier by sharing an integrated system.

The plan outlined the need to strengthen the financial and technological support necessary to drive green steel transitions globally, including establishing dedicated Climate Investment Funds.

As well as supporting the green transition, the plan would further support the drive toward phasing-out pollution-generating vehicles in the major car-buying markets by 2035.

“Since we launched the Breakthrough Agenda at COP26, the world has changed, and we are facing a perilous geopolitical and economic situation. That only makes international collaboration more urgent,” COP26 president Alok Sharma, the former UK energy secretary, said.

“That’s why I am pleased that countries representing more than 50% of global GDP have now agreed to a set of priority actions for implementation,” he added. “Now, it is vital for all to deliver and demonstrate real progress as we move forward. This is integral to achieving the 2030 goal of making clean technology affordable, available and accessible to all.”

The new targets established could help to spur green steel transition through a combination of new policies to stimulate purchasing of green industrial material, financial support and industry partnerships.

The transition to green steel will require a vast global investment, according to energy research consultant Wood Mackenzie and the International Energy Agency. They estimated that an investment of about $1.4 trillion would be required to decarbonize the iron and steel sector by 2050.

Currently, there are no clear metrics for how financial investment into this sector would be structured. The majority of investments in Europe into green technologies so far have come from venture capital financing.

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