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How India’s Steel Sector Is Going To Disrupt Its Climate Goals In A Big Way

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WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

This is an era of climate emergency. According to the recent Emissions Gap Report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), even if all the current commitments under the Paris Agreement are met, the average global temperature would rise by 3.2°C from pre-industrial levels.

The TERI report elaborates on the strategies for decarbonising the steel sector and ultimately making it zero-emissions.

This is indeed, much higher than our target, to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C, by the end of this century. This comes in the backdrop of an emotive clarion call by one of the youngest climate activists, Greta Thunberg. She admonished world leaders for failing to act towards the impending crisis and warned that this generation will never forgive them.

At this opportune time, The Energy And Research Institute, TERI has come up with a report titled “Towards a Low Carbon Steel Sector: Overview of the Changing Market, Technology and Policy Context for Indian Steel”. It gives a comprehensive overview of the present greenhouse gas emissions from the steel sector in India, and the projections of Co2 emissions from the sector by 2050.

Further, the report elaborates on the strategies for decarbonising the steel sector and ultimately making it zero-emissions.

As of 2020, the steel sector emits 242 Mt CO2 per year. This constitutes nearly 35% of India’s total emissions from fossil fuel combustion and Industry.

The report projects a steep increase in Co2 emissions, which would more than triple by 2050. In the baseline scenario, the sector would emit nearly 837 Mt CO2 per year, by 2050.

In case of a high growth scenario, where the Indian economy grows on the backbone of the high carbon-intensive manufacturing sector, the emissions can be much more. This is a matter of concern as it deviates India from its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) targets of the Paris Agreement.

The targets include a commitment to reduce its emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level. Moreover, India being the 4th highest contributor to CO2 emissions ( 7% of global emissions) has an added responsibility of saving the world from the impending climate crisis.

What Needs To Be Done To Decarbonise The Steel Sector In India?

A second lever to decarbonise (and ultimately move towards zero emissions) the steel sector is through the use of green hydrogen.

A three-pronged approach is needed to move towards a low carbon steel sector by 2050. Firstly, it is imperative to improve the energy and resource efficiency of the steel sector. The sector in India is highly energy-intensive, as per the global standards.

It includes older and inefficient blast furnace units, along with reliance on coal-based direct reduction. At the plant level, if the globally accepted energy efficiency measure is adopted, the GHG emissions could reduce by nearly 30%.

Moreover, there is a need to increase the usage of scrap steel whose production is 85% less carbon-intensive than primary ones.

A second lever to decarbonise (and ultimately move towards zero emissions) the steel sector is through the use of green hydrogen. Presently, the vast majority of hydrogen across the world is produced from Natural Gas, through a process called Steam Methane Reforming (SMR).

This process releases a huge amount of CO2, and the Hydrogen produced is called brown or grey Hydrogen. Recent breakthroughs in the technology have suggested that Hydrogen can be produced from electrolysis of water, and if the electricity is produced from a renewable source, no GHG emissions take place.

The hydrogen, thus produced, is called Green Hydrogen. This, when used in the steel sector, can reduce emissions by more than 90%.

Thirdly, it is important to focus on Research and Development (R&D) for decarbonisation of the steel sector in the country. The R&D focus, along with international collaborations, will help India move towards zero emissions steel sector in a fast way. Indian companies, like Tata Steel, have the required expertise to decarbonise this sector.

India is standing at the cusp of a climate emergency. It is paramount for India to take a leadership role in averting the looming catastrophe on humankind. As it has always believed in the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’( the world is one), the world and especially the young generation is looking towards India.

The report for the decarbonising steel sector lays out a clear roadmap for India to follow. By implementing this, in true letter and spirit, would make India a messenger of hope for the world.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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