We have many challenges to overcome as a global society. We are faced with resource shortages, water and land stress, environmental degradation and climate change. There are also many needs to be met – from poverty eradication to mitigation of natural disasters. The challenges are magnified by a population set to grow from the present 7 to 9 billion by 2050, accompanied by rapid urbanization.
It is clear that things cannot go on as they have, and that we must transition to a green economy in which economic growth and environmental and social responsibility work hand in hand.
The steel industry believes that sustainable development must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Within this, a green economy delivers prosperity for all nations, wealthy and poor alike, while preserving and enhancing the planet’s resources.
The transition to a green economy is already underway and presents countless opportunities for positive change. Steel has an essential role to play in this transition and in sustaining a green economy. Steel is critical to the sectors and technologies that will enable and drive a green economy. Renewable energy , resource and energy efficient buildings, low-carbon transport, infrastructure for fuel efficient and clean energy vehicles, and recycling facilities all depend on steel . These sectors will also provide employment opportunities, as does the steel sector itself.
The steel industry employs more than 2 million people directly around the world, with a further 2 million contractors and 4 million in supporting industries. Considering steel’s position as the key product supplier to industries such as automotive, construction, transport, power and machine goods, the steel industry is at the source of employment for many more millions of people.
Global steel use has grown more than seven-fold since 1950. By 2050, steel use is projected to increase by 1.5 times that of present levels, to meet the needs of our growing global population. The figure below shows a forecast of steel consumption by region.
Source: World Steel