A plan to reduce CO2 emissions from Brazil’s steel industry has failed, causing the amount of carbon pollution produced by the sector to double in less than a decade, researchers said. Analysts who proposed the switch had not thought through the implications of the new energy source.
Brazilian steel producers switched their energy source from coal to charcoal from forests, causing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to rise to 182 million tonnes in 2007 from 91 million tonnes in 2000, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
“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,” Laura Sonter, a University of Vermont scientist and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
Charcoal derived from plantation forests is carbon neutral, but Brazilian steel producers opted for charcoal sourced from native forests, which has a high carbon footprint and causes “significant deforestation”, Sonter said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The findings have implications beyond Brazil, as the global steel industry generates about 7 percent of all CO2 emissions caused by humans, scientists said.
Analysts who proposed the switch had not thought through the implications of the new energy source, meaning a plan aimed at improving the environment did more harm than good, they added.