Environmental policy topics
As described in detail in earlier reports, the political, economic, and technical debate surrounding the issue of the environment is focused on the EU 2050 Roadmaps, CO2 emissions trading, and the Steel Roadmap of the European Steel Association EUROFER.
EU 2050 Roadmaps
Subsequent to the publication of the EU Commission’s “2050 Roadmaps” for climate policy, energy, and resource efficiency in 2011, the Commission also presented a white paper on the transportation system. With respect to deliberations in the European Parliament and the Council, so far both bodies have only been able to reach consensus about the roadmap on the topic of resource efficiency and thus gave a corresponding implementation assignment to the Commission. The definitive implementation process will be voted on at the plenary session of the EU Parliament this coming October.
The European Steel Association EUROFER developed the “Low Carbon Steel Roadmap” over the past twelve months, which has since been published. On the one hand, this roadmap illustrates the significance of steel within the context of active climate protection; on the other hand, it examines the technologically achievable potential—realistically speaking—of reducing CO2 emissions. It basically showed that, given the current conditions in Europe, any further significant reduction of emissions is not economically feasible and would only be achievable with the existence of new preconditions that the steel industry is unable to influence (e.g., availability of inexpensive energy sources, public acceptance of new framework conditions). Bearing in mind that, within this context, only new technological solutions would facilitate—at least to some extent—the “low carbon goal” that Europe is striving for, voestalpine is taking a definitive step toward improving carbon efficiency by investing in a direct reduction system in North America.
In the production process for sponge iron (HBI or hot-briquetted iron) as the base material for blast furnace and steel mill, coke and coal are no longer used as the reducing agent, but natural gas instead, which leads to a substantially smaller carbon footprint.
CO2 emissions trading
The process, described in the , and the continued development of the Emissions Trading Guideline by the EU Commission might gain new momentum within the foreseeable future. The proposal for the allocation volumes that apply to Austria under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme had already been published nationwide on March 5, 2012 and submitted to the EU Commission; however, other member states submitted their documentation considerably later. Consequently, the review of these proposals is still underway at present. But all of the national allocation plans have to be evaluated before the Commission can decide whether or not the total of the scheduled free allocations is consistent with the total volumes allowed by the Emissions Trading Guideline. If not, then the allocation volume would have to be lowered across the board by a “correction factor.” As the general public learned in July 2013, a correction factor of this kind might even become necessary in the short-term, at which point the producing industry, first and foremost, would bear a significantly greater burden. In the interest of preserving the global competitiveness of European production sites, a structural reform—with a clear separation of energy production and producing industry sectors—would certainly be unavoidable in this case. Therefore, it is impossible at this time to make any reliable assertions on the definitive CO2 cost burden for the next few years.
New environmental information campaign
The voestalpine Group is presenting a new face in regard to its environmental activities—both on the Internet and in the print media—based on a standard and clearly delineated baseline. The slogan “We have the environment firmly in focus” is intended to deepen the understanding of environmental protection activities, both within and outside of the Group, and create the greatest possible level of transparency. Complex environmental issues are presented in a concise, easy-to-understand package. The new Internet presence and an up-to-date environmental folder communicate the Group’s environmental awareness to the outside world.
The environmental network at the voestalpine companies promote the active exchange of knowledge, open and regular transfer of information and communications, target-group oriented communications plans, and regularly scheduled meetings, so that together, solutions can be further enhanced and implemented in the interest of the company as well as its surroundings.