The central regions of China’s heavy industry are preparing for tougher measures to combat smog and reduce carbon emissions after high-profile repression and intensified green rhetoric of President Xi Jinping.
The production of metals is an energy-intensive process. Steel accounts for 15% of China’s carbon emissions, the largest share among manufacturers, with most of the pollution originating in high-temperature furnaces where iron ore is smelted with coal.
Metal prices have skyrocketed – with some markets now peaking in a decade – on signs that a more centralized push to curb pollution and the wasteful use of energy will cut production.
China’s recovery from the pandemic has led to an increase in emissions in 2020. Now, policymakers have to balance the need to achieve a growth target of more than 6% and heed leadership’s calls for cleaner development. For metals, this threatens a decade of supply growth.
This month, China’s Minister of the Environment personally raided the steel city of Tangshan, which accounts for 14% of national production. After his team discovered that several factories were flouting restrictions, they were extended for the rest of this year.
China is stepping up efforts to make the world’s largest steel industry green.