China's iron and steel industry has made significant green efforts to prevent carbon emissions and protect the environment during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, according to industry officials and experts.
Liu Bingjiang, head of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's air quality management department, said at a recent industry forum that 228 steel companies are currently undergoing ultralow carbon emission transformation, involving crude steel output of 610 million metric tons.
Among them, 159 steel companies, with a capacity of more than 450 million tons, are in the key regions for air quality improvement including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area and the Yangtze River Delta.
Moreover, 82 steel enterprises, with a capacity of 330 million tons and covering 60 percent of the key regions' total capacity, have already started working on ultralow carbon emission supervision and assessment, after piloting low-carbon emission equipment and production protocols for a month.
That is to say, the ultralow carbon requirements for the iron and steel industry outlined in a document issued early last year by five central government departments have been met ahead of schedule. The five departments included the MEE and the National Development and Reform Commission.
The document required that 60 percent of production capacity in the key regions meet the ultralow carbon emission standards by the end of this year. It also required basically all steel companies in the key regions to finish the upgrade by the end of 2025.
Companies that have successfully completed the upgrade will get stronger policy support on taxes, finance, and environmental protection.
Green and low-carbon development has become a universal mindset among China's iron and steel industry players, according to He Wenbo, executive chairman of the China Iron and steel Association.
"Green and low-carbon development is key to the industry's high-quality development, and in the past few years, we have made considerable progress," He said during a forum held in Beijing by the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute.
Twenty-two provincial-level governments have come out with documents to promote ultralow carbon emission standards for the iron and steel industry, following the central government's directive in 2019, he said.
Quite a few Chinese iron and steel companies have led the world in using advanced treatment facilities for pollutants and controlling the emission intensity per unit of steel production, he said, citing the examples of Shougang Group, Taiyuan Iron and Steel Group Co Ltd and Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes Co Ltd.
Particularly, instead of making smoke and dust, Delong Steel's plant in Xingtai, Hebei province, has become a national A-list tourist attraction due to its low-carbon production process and gardenlike factory environment.
Liu said low-carbon emission transformation is an important measure for Chinese iron and steel industry to seek high-quality development and upgrade, and the industry should be confident that it will have the world's largest clean steel production network.
Despite all the achievements, the industry is still faced with multiple challenges during its green efforts, said He.
He said energy conservation and environmental protection capabilities vary among enterprises, and a scientific and standardized long-term environmental protection mechanism has not yet been formed.
Economically feasible technical solutions to achieve ultralow emission in the industry across the whole country are still needed, he said.