ArcelorMittal was nominated for profiting from the EU emission trading scheme (ETS) by lobbying governments to get surplus free emissions permits and failing to make real cuts in CO2 emissions. The steel giant also promotes pseudo-solutions to climate change such as “lightweight steel cars”, nuclear plants and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
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ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steel company generating profits of $9.4 billion in 2008. It is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Global Compact, two of the convenors of the Copenhagen Business Summit on Climate Change.
ArcelorMittal’s steel-making operations emitted some 240 million tonnes of CO2 in 2007. While the company acknowledges that it is a “dirty industry”, its first Corporate Responsibility Report published in 2008 has been criticised for its lack of substance on environmental action.
A report examining the company’s plants in nine countries highlights how the environment, workers and local residents are paying the price for ArcelorMittal’s success because of the levels of local pollution.
Yet ArcelorMittal is the biggest beneficiary of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) while its emissions rose in 2006 and 2007. The company received on average 30% more permits than it needed through lobbying at the EU and national levelsviii. ArcelorMittal’s surplus allowances for 2005-2008 could have generated windfall profits in excess of €1.3 billion if sold.
In 2009, some of ArcelorMittal’s ‘emissions savings’ will not come from carbon-saving measures, but from temporarily closing down plants.
ArcelorMittal has told some governments that it will relocate if it does not receive carbon allowances for free.
In a promotional video, ArcelorMittal claims its “lightweight steel” can help reduce CO2 emissions from cars and promotes “recyclable steel houses” as a green solution, even though building a steel house requires more energy than concrete or wood.
ArcelorMittal supports nuclear and carbon capture technologies as “solutions” to climate change, calling for new nuclear reactors in France and Romania. The company is also keen to invest in CCS to allow it to continue burning coal.