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Steel without fossils

I’ve been a li’l frustrated in the past with how the Swedish gov’ts investment in flashy “Pave the Earth”–style climate projects like fossil free steel (that might not even work) seems to be at the expense of also doing much cheaper, high-impact, low-hanging fruit like peatland restoration.

Still, steel production that does use fossil fuels is not gonna be sustainable in the long run, and switching over to other ways is going to be necessary if there should even be steel at all.

Yesterday, a rightwing think tank released a report critical of “green steel” and news media lapped it up as per ushe. (Whereas anytime I write something it’s rotting on the vine. Maybe I should rebrand into being a “think tank”.)

I was pretty disappointed in the news headlines emphasizing that a “researcher”, a “professor” was dissing the project, eliding that it’s an economist we’re talking about.

From an economics perspective there actually are a few key insights worthy to keep before we throw out the bathwater of this overall delayist report, specifically how they point out that one of the tertiarily involved companies seem to be setting up an input requirement of materials, supply of which that the other, main companies have already spoken for.

But the main point of the project is, of course, to reduce emissions.

The report admits:

The other option for SSAB was to keep, refurbish, or reinvest in existing and new blast furnaces. From a political, economical, or sustainable perspective, that could probably never have been on the table as a credible investment choice. Primarily because that strategy initially would’ve caused continuing large-scale emissions. Not only initially; there’s no guarantee that such a strategy would ever fully reduce the CO2 emissions. The company’s investments in their wholly new production chain should therefore be seen as a necessity of real economy.

Well, yeah. We’re on the eve of destruction, is the problem. There’s no use having the cheapest steel on the cinder.

If there is option A and option B, and option A means making slightly less money but the Earth won’t die, then option A is better. That perspective should’ve permeated the report, not be tucked into a corner of “well OK we can see they believe they must do this but they’re not gonna make as much money as those who kept on blasting until a not-yet-invented–pie-in-the-sky technology comes along like a machina ex machina and saves us all!”

The news media’s reporting, which boils down to “Wuxtry! Scientist proves green steel sucks!”, has been so irresponsible. Journalism.🫗