InfluenceMap’s new report finds that Japanese and South Korean steel companies rank among the most negative on climate policy engagement when compared with their global competitors. This opposition to Paris-aligned climate policy contrasts with many of the steel sector’s customers (in real estate, construction, machinery) which have stronger climate goals and are more likely to support government action on climate change.
Japan's Nippon Steel and JFE Steel are the worst performing, scoring D- and E+ on InfluenceMap's A-to-F system of measuring climate policy engagement against the goals of the Paris Agreement. South Korea's POSCO and Hyundai Steel perform slightly better, but are both still within the D performance band. These scores indicate obstructive engagement on climate policy.
The report also assesses the main steel sector groups in Japan and South Korea. The Japan Iron and Steel Federation (JISF) and the Korea Iron and Steel Association (KOSA), which both score an E+ grade and rank as the two most negative industry associations compared with other global steel industry associations in Europe and the United States.
Given the move towards greater reporting requirements for Scope 3 emissions - including from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - there will be greater pressure on the steel sector's customer base to decarbonize. Already, the analysis shows the downstream value chain is more closely aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement than the Japanese and South Korean steel sectors.
InfluenceMap’s LobbyMap platform tracks and scores the detailed climate change policy engagement activities of over 350 of the world’s largest companies, along with over 150 key industry associations.
Shareholders concerned with the climate performance of these companies should be concerned by their opposition to government measures on climate change. Given the primary role that government policies will have in driving an urgent climate transition, the negative climate policy engagement by the steel sector in Japan and South Korea likely indicates a lack of commitment by senior management in steel companies to drive a Paris-aligned transition throughout the organization. The negative views are channeled into polices through various avenues such as strong links to powerful industry associations and membership in government committees.
Investors should engage closely with the companies and industry associations noted in this report to understand how such negative climate policy engagement is consistent with top-line messaging from the same organizations on national 2050 climate targets and the Paris Agreement. Leading Korean steelmakers POSCO and Hyundai Steel have both supported the South Korean government's 2050 net zero target, while KOSA released a '2050 Net Zero Declaration' with sign-on from all its member companies, stating commitment to the decarbonization of the steel sector. Nippon Steel and JFE Steel have questioned Japan's official 2050 carbon neutrality target and have continuously opposed various policies needed to achieve those goals.