In the , the comprehensive measures that the voestalpine Group is currently implementing with great consistency in all important segments of emissions reduction and efficiency of resources management were already presented in detail.
Therefore, the current developments in the most significant environmental projects at both the national and the EU level will be highlighted in the following:
CO2 emissions certificate trading/post-Kyoto regime: After publication in May 2011 of the European benchmark figures for the steel industry for the period from 2013 to 2020, implementation on the national level in Austria was initiated by way of a directive of the Austrian Ministry of the Environment. The defined allocation mechanism was subsequently contested before the European Court of Justice by the European steel association EUROFER and a number of its member companies, including voestalpine AG. The complaints, which were filed in July 2011, were directed particularly toward the specific CO2 emissions requirements that cannot be achieved with today’s technical possibilities. The European Court of Justice dismissed the complaints as inadmissible for formal reasons with its ruling of June 4, 2012 without undertaking a substantive examination of the content; however, at the same time, it pointed out that each affected company has the possibility of filing a complaint at the national level. Currently, the chances of success of such a step are being examined, however, rulings on individual cases will not be able to achieve the equal treatment on a European level that was sought by the original complaint.
“Roadmaps 2050” represent the central element of the overall EU strategy for the development of a low-carbon economy. They aim to reduce the CO2 emissions within the EU by 80% to 95% measured against the level in 1990 by 2050, move to CO2-free production of electricity, and radically remake infrastructure and transport fleets. The concrete definition of reduction scenarios to achieve this objective as well as the assessment at the industry level have yet to be established. The European steel association EUROFER has decided to develop its own specific sectoral roadmap by the end of 2012 that will highlight the importance of the material steel for European society as well as its contribution to climate protection. However, the contributions of the steel industry will be effective only if there are no further encroachments into existing certificate trading, which drive prices upward, or if the emissions reduction goals are not made drastically more stringent, as this would rob the industry of its viability.
Life cycle assessment (LCA): Customers, competitors, and decision makers are increasingly focusing on the comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA). The term “eco-balance” is often used in this context. LCA is the systematic analysis of the environmental effects of products and processes with a comprehensive evaluation of their impact over their entire life cycle.
All of the effects of a product on humans and the environment during production, utilization phase, and disposal—including recycling—are analyzed by way of the LCA. The crucial advantage of the LCA is that the ecological effects are viewed holistically instead of merely examining individual and isolated phases.
voestalpine supports providing the life cycle concept with a legal basis by way of political action, and it is actively involved in the development of the appropriate European and international rules and regulations. This is currently being accomplished primarily by setting up an internal work group that is comprised of representatives of the Steel and Special Steel Divisions and of all the company functions that are most important for the LCA, such as Purchasing, Marketing, Production, R&D, Sales, and Environment. The responsibility of the work group is to observe the developments and coordinate the various LCA activities on one hand, including the required data management, as well as the active participation in LCA projects on the other hand within the scope of national and international work groups and advocacy groups, such as EUROFER and the World Steel Association.
With regard to the topics of the REACH (EU Regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU, which have been discussed in detail in previous publications, the status has remained largely unchanged and we therefore refer to the recent reports in the .