GHG Accounting for Low-emissions Branded Steel and Aluminum Products

Iron, steel, and aluminum products are major sources of GHG emissions, and these emissions have traditionally been hard to abate. As of 2020, the iron and steel and the aluminum industries accounted for 7% and 3% of global GHG emissions respectively. In recent years, demand has increased substantially for “green” iron, steel, and aluminum products which can allow purchasing companies to reduce their reported upstream scope 3 GHG emissions.

In response to increased demand, companies in these industries have made an expanding array of green products available to customers. 

GHG Accounting for Low-emissions Branded Steel and Aluminum Products,” draws from an original analysis of over a dozen steel and aluminum low carbon brands and argues that while green-branded products can play a role in incentivizing and supporting the expansion of green procurement, they exist in a market that lacks the transparent, harmonized system for emissions accounting necessary to drive broad-based emissions reductions in the materials sector. 

This paper provides concrete steps to achieving a transparent and cohesive green market for low-emissions branded steel and aluminum products. To address shortcomings in the green products markets, CCSI suggests:

  1. Policymakers should step in and develop strong GHG accounting standards for the materials sector (and beyond).  
  2. In the absence of regulations imposing strong product accounting standards, iron, steel, and aluminum producers should advocate and work towards harmonized and transparent accounting of GHG footprints for all their products so that green premiums for these products can be determined independently and efficiently by the market.
  3. Green labels should be issued within an existing and internationally recognized framework for low-emissions product certifications in order to facilitate the development of a truly green global market. 
  4. Business models should evolve with producers creating opportunities for long-term offtake for specific emissions reducing technology investments and buyers adopting procurement frameworks which take responsibility for identifying and pursuing opportunities to support real sectoral decarbonization.