Opportunities and challenges for decarbonizing steel production by creating markets for ‘green steel’ products

Hasan Muslemani*, Xi Liang, Katharina Kaesehage, Francisco Ascui, Jeffrey Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The creation of a market for steel produced by less carbon-intensive production processes, here called ‘green steel’, has been identified as a means of supporting the introduction of breakthrough emission reduction technologies into steel production. However, numerous details remain under-explored, including exactly what ‘green’ entails in the context of steelmaking, the likely competitiveness of green steel products in domestic and international markets, and potential policy mechanisms to support their successful market penetration. This paper addresses this gap through qualitative research with international sustainability experts and commercial managers from leading steel trade associations, research institutes and steelmakers. We find that there is a need to establish a common understanding of what ‘greenness’ means in the steelmaking context, and to resolve various carbon accounting and assurance issues, which otherwise have the potential to lead to perverse outcomes and opportunities for greenwashing. We identify a set of potential demand-side and supply-side policy mechanisms to support green steel production, and highlight a need for a combination of policies to ensure successful market development and avoid unintended consequences for competition at three different levels: 1) between products manufactured through a primary vs secondary steelmaking route, 2) between ‘green’ and traditional, ‘brown’ steel, and 3) with other substitutable materials. The study further shows that the automotive industry is a likely candidate for green steel demand, where a market could be supported by price premiums paid by willing consumers, such as those of high-end luxury and heavy-duty vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128127
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date28 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021


  • climate policy
  • decarbonization
  • green steel
  • iron and steel industry
  • market analysis


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