ArcelorMittal Falls Short on Decarbonization Commitments, Advocacy Group Report Reveals

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper

Liberia-May 12,2024: ArcelorMittal, the world’s second-largest steelmaker, is facing scrutiny over its failure to uphold its promises on decarbonization, as highlighted in a recent report by advocacy group SteelWatch.

The report sheds light on several key findings that underscore the company’s disregard for climate action. Despite pledging to invest USD1.5 billion in decarbonization efforts between 2021 and 2023, ArcelorMittal reportedly only allocated USD500 million towards this goal, representing just one-third of its stated commitment.

This stark underinvestment raises concerns about the company’s sincerity in tackling its significant carbon footprint.

Moreover, while ArcelorMittal claimed to be advancing toward greener practices, its actions appear contradictory.

The company received substantial government subsidies, including a EUR3.5 billion support package, to facilitate its transition to green hydrogen-based steelmaking.

However, it later reneged on these plans, opting instead for carbon-intensive fossil gas, all while seemingly retaining the subsidy, an indication of prioritizing profits over genuine sustainability efforts.

This reliance on state support coincides with a period of record shareholder returns, with ArcelorMittal disbursing a staggering USD11 billion to shareholders through buybacks and dividends from 2021 to 2023 alone.

Notably, the lion’s share of these returns benefitted the controlling Mittal family, whose shares surged in value by USD2.9 billion over the same period, reaching a total of USD9.65 billion.

This disparity between shareholder gains and environmental commitments underscores the company’s profit-centric agenda.
ArcelorMittal’s alleged greenwashing tactics further compound its image problem. Despite its claims of eco-friendliness, evidenced by its sponsorship of the recent Olympic Games in France and provision of low-carbon steel for the Olympic torch, the company’s actions tell a different story.

This has resulted to many human and environmental rights organization raising concern on the issues.
On May 8, 2024, SteelWatch and the Fair Steel Coalition launched the “Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames” campaign.

The campaign aims to expose this apparent discrepancy and hold ArcelorMittal accountable for its environmental impact in various countries that it is operating including Liberia.
Furthermore, ArcelorMittal’s expansion of highly polluting blast furnaces in India, coupled with its reluctance to commit to science-based climate targets aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, raises serious concerns about its long-term environmental stewardship.

In response to these revelations, stakeholders such as Caroline Ashley, director of SteelWatch, and Julia Hovenier, campaigner at BankTrack & the Fair Steel Coalition, have called for stronger government regulations and financial incentives to compel ArcelorMittal to realign its investments with sustainable, climate-friendly practices.

ArcelorMittal’s conduct serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for corporations to prioritize environmental responsibility and transparency in their operations, rather than prioritizing short-term gains at the expense of long-term sustainability.

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