Bataille, C. et al. (2023). Towards net-zero emissions concrete and steel in India, Brazil and South Africa, Climate Policy.
Working with in-country modelling teams and models, targeting net-zero CO2 emissions by later this century, and using decomposition and emissions driver analysis, we develop low emissions cement and steel scenarios linked to usable policy levers for Brazil, India, and South Africa. We find significant mitigation potential from a ‘current policy’ scenario on the demand side (13–26%) and the production side (58–71%), but these countries’ substantial needs for more basic infrastructure – and thus for cement and steel inputs – indicate net-zero will remain very challenging. Demand-side material efficiency reductions, where less steel and cement deliver the same service through better design, will require decades of educational and regulatory efforts, working with buildings sector and infrastructure supply chain actors to reach full potential. In the short to medium run, focusing on reducing emissions from production may deliver more near-term cumulative mitigation by allowing close attention to a small number of domestic companies with high managerial, technical, and financial capacity. To achieve such reductions, governments should encourage the concentration of cement and concrete making at professional facilities to allow the use and regulation of already commercialized lower GHG practices like cementitious material clinker replacement and better concrete mixing while planning for future carbon capture and storage. Governments should also encourage investment in secondary steel making using electric arc furnaces to reuse local recycled scrap, eventually supplemented with increasingly low emission primary iron. International cooperation and support are needed to agree on and implement CO2 intensity accounting systems, improve access to low-emissions production technologies through innovation and commercialization combined with technology transfer or co-development, and offer financial and technical support for clean production investments.