Steelmaking has to get greener. But who'll pay?
Dates assigned to environmental targets often seem reassuringly - or complacently - distant.
By 2050, the British government has promised, the country's net emissions of greenhouse gases will be zero.
Its advisers on the Climate Change Committee have recommended that steelmaking, which belches about one-tenth of Britain's industrial emissions, should be "near-zero" by 2035.
If that sounds leisurely, it is anything but.
Both steelmakers and ministers must make uncomfortable decisions, involving billions of pounds and thousands of jobs, uncomfortably soon.
Britain's two biggest industrial emitters are steelworks: Tata Steel UK's at Port Talbot in south Wales and British Steel's at Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire.
Both make iron and then steel in blast and basic oxygen furnaces, using iron ore, coke - made from coal - and other materials.
A first step to greener steel would be to switch to electric arc furnaces (EAFS), in which the main inputs are scrap steel and electricity.
(The total cut in carbon emissions depends on how the electricity is generated.)
British Steel is also looking at carbon capture.
A further green goal for the global industry is to use hydrogen in "direct reduction", a process that reduces iron ore to metallic iron for feeding into EAFS.
The clock is ticking: one blast furnace at Port Talbot will need replacing, refurbishing or decommissioning in perhaps three years.
The cost of switching Port Talbot to EAFS has been put at up to 3bn Pounds ($3.6bn).
Upgrading Scunthorpe will also cost a ten-figure sum.
These would be gulpworthy amounts even in a thriving industry.
But steel in Britain is struggling.
Last year output slid by 16% to 6.1m tonnes, the lowest amount since 1932.
British Steel, bought out of insolvency by Jingye, a Chinese company, in 2020, is reportedly contemplating 800 job cuts at Scunthorpe.
Last month Liberty Steel said it would reduce production at its EAF in Rotherham, in Yorkshire, and idle other facilities; as many as 400 jobs may go.
Indian-owned Tata Steel UK did make a profit before tax in 2021-22, but that was the first for 13 years.