Brazil steel industry emissions doubled

As a result of UN backed measures to cut reliance on coal Carbon emissions from Brazil’s steel industry have doubled. 1

The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism provides a financial reward to industries that replace the polluting fossil fuel with cleaner sources in this case charcoal grown from specially planted forests in order to reduce global emissions. But the scheme has backfired, finds a report published in Nature Climate Change.

Emissions from Brazil’s steel industry doubled from 9.1 million to 182 million tonnes of CO2 between 2000 and 2007, despite a decline in the use of coal. This is because steel companies started to rely on Brazil’s native forests for charcoal. These are not considered carbon neutral, as unlike plantation forests they do not necessarily regrow.

Ms Laura Sonter, a scientist at the University of Vermont and the lead author of the study said that “Our study found that increased global demand for steel, and a lack of available plantation forest in Brazil, increased the industry’s use of charcoal sourced from native forests, which is not carbon neutral and emits up to nine times more CO2 per tonne of steel than coal.”

But by the time plantation forest space had run out, it was too late, explains the study the infrastructure of the steel industry had already been adapted to charcoal in response to the CDM opportunities. This meant that there was no returning to coal.

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