While low-carbon technologies exist across many industries, for the steel sector, which emits roughly 7% of global energy emissions, commercially viable alternatives are still at an early stage.
Several notable lenders to the steel sector including UniCredit have come together to define the common standards of action for steel sector decarbonisation through a collective climate-aligned finance agreement.
The banks have formed the Steel Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group, facilitated by RMI's Center for Climate-Aligned Finance, with the goal of creating an industry-backed agreement before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November 2021 (COP26) and more broadly speaking, a level playing field for measuring progress against climate targets in the steel sector.
The Working Group comprises senior representatives from each bank's metals and mining teams, as well as industry representatives, and will forge the scope, emissions pathways, methodologies and governance structure of the collective climate-aligned finance agreement in collaboration with existing decarbonisation initiatives.
Commenting on the project, Frank Biburger, UniCredit's Global Head of Producer Finance at UniCredit, said: "UniCredit is strongly committed to supporting its clients in achieving their ESG targets as a core part of our efforts to drive the transition to a low carbon and more inclusive world economy. With close cooperation between the industry and regulators, combined with technical innovation and support from banks like ours, we can jointly establish a competitive, digitalized and decarbonized steel industry."
The agreement itself will be modelled on the Poseidon Principles, the first sector-specific climate-aligned finance agreement for maritime shipping. The Principles were launched in July 2019 with eleven banking signatories representing $100 billion — or 20% — of senior shipping debt and have since more than doubled to 24 signatories representing $175 billion as of March 2021, setting the stage for similar frameworks in other sectors.
The initiative will be overseen the Mission Possible Partnership (MPP), an alliance of leading non-profit organizations and businesses working to accelerate industrial decarbonisation in the real economy. Within MPP, the Working Group is part of the Net-Zero Steel Initiative (NZSI), comprising some of the world's largest steel producers and suppliers.