Fortescue Metals Group fast-tracks carbon cuts with 2030 ‘net zero’ goal

March 15, 2021

Fortescue Metals Group announced a new target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, 10 years sooner than the previous target.

Chairman and founder Andrew Forrest said the company plans to cut carbon emissions from Fortescue Metals Group’s own operations within nine years and step up investments in ways to remove coal from the emissions-intensive steel-making sector.

The 2030 goal is two decades ahead of 2050 goals set by larger mining heavyweights. Fortescue will also link executive pay to achieving these strengthened emissions targets.

The move comes as a growing number of the nation’s heaviest emitters escalate efforts to zero out their emissions and work towards achieving the Paris climate accord’s goals to slow global warming.

“Fortescue is now firmly leading corporate Australia with this commitment,” Dan Gocher, climate director with the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, an activist group told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Fortescue’s commitment is literally decades ahead of the rest of the ASX.”

The steel-making industry – which mixes iron ore and coking coal in blast furnaces heated to more than 1000 degrees – is a major driver of global warming, accounting for an estimated 8 per cent of the world’s emissions.

While Fortescue is yet to pledge Scope 3 goals, Forrest said the company was blazing into the clean energy sector in Australia and around the world, and was aiming to launch a local pilot plant this year to manufacture “green hydrogen” – hydrogen made through a process using renewable energy. Hydrogen, which burns cleanly and emits only water, could eventually substitute coal in steel-making furnaces and eliminate emissions from the process.

“We have joined the global battle to defeat climate change,” said Forrest in a statement. “We are trialing and demonstrating green hydrogen technologies in global-scale commercial environments, while also rapidly evolving into a green hydrogen and electricity producer of similar scale. “Our commitment to demonstrate green hydrogen’s economic value in world-scale operations, and become a major energy exporter, while implementing the considerable facilities to support both, means that Fortescue has emerged not simply as a thought-leader and investor, but uniquely as an executor of major green hydrogen projects.”

In a statement, Forrest said the company aims to to provide the two “missing links” in the climate change battle, to create both the demand and the supply of green hydrogen.

“Due to its high energy performance and environmental neutrality, green hydrogen and direct green electricity has the potential to eliminate fossil fuels from supply chains. Once established, these advances will also substantially reduce Fortescue’s operating costs,” Forrest said. 

“Fortescue’s strong focus on green energy and our carbon neutrality targets will sit alongside our continuing excellence in, and commitment to, our iron ore business. While our green energy and industry initiatives may one day significantly out scale our iron ore business due to the global demand for renewable energy, our commitment to iron ore and resources globally remains indefeasible,” said Forrest.
 

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