Climate activists have challenged steel magnates to protect glaciers as the Olympic torch arrives in Chamonix

With the torch of the 2024 Olympic Games passing through Chamonix yesterday, a century after the first Winter Olympic Games took place there, Olympic sponsor and torch-producer, ArcelorMittal, is being warned by climate activists that it needs to take definitive action to cut climate emissions.

As part of its official Olympic sponsorship, ArcelorMittal has provided steel with a reduced carbon footprint for the torch carrying the Eternal Flame, and the cauldron. The steel in question is made from scrap in an electric arc furnace. The company claims that it buys enough renewable electricity to cover the consumption of the EAF.

Activists from the Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames campaign held banners featuring ArcelorMittal company leaders Lakshmi and Aditya Mittal and reading “ArcelorMittal: your steel melts glaciers” in front of Mer de glace, Europe’s largest glacier.

“ArcelorMittal is uniquely placed to be a global leader on steel decarbonisation, and it clearly wants to be seen as one…"

Pascal Husting of Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames

UK-based SteelWatch has issued a press release on the Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames activity in Chamonix referencing media reports from the New York Times and Euronews which claim that Mer de glace has retreated by two kilometres over the past 100 years, and it is expected to disappear completely by 2100, fundamentally changing Europe’s alpine environment and severely impacting local businesses and communities.

Quoting its own ArcelorMittal Corporate Climate Assessment 2024 and online information from MSCI, a leading provider of criticial decision support tools and services for the global investment community, SteelWatch states that the impact of steel production on climate change is substantial, with the sector responsible for at least 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Mittal family owns 42% of ArcelorMittal, and the company’s decarbonisation plans are currently judged to be on track for 3.2C of warming.

ArcelorMittal, says SteelWatch, claims it is unable to set a climate target that aligns with limiting climate change to 1.5C. "It is actively backtracking from decarbonisation plans in Europe, and expanding coal-based production in countries like India," according to a SteelWatch press release, adding that while only 10 countries will be able to host the Winter Olympics by 2040 due to climate impacts (according to IOC president Thomas Bach, talking to the BBC in October 2023) the 800 million people who rely on water from disappearing Himalayan glaciers for drinking, irrigation, and hydropower in India alone will feel the effects of the steel giant's failure to reduce emissions 'far more keenly'.

Pascal Husting of Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames, commented: “ArcelorMittal is uniquely placed to be a global leader on steel decarbonisation, and it clearly wants to be seen as one… but the fact it has spent 22 times more enriching its shareholders than it has spent on decarbonisation in the last three years shows where its true priorities are.

“ArcelorMittal is the worst polluter in France, and its contribution to global emissions is enormous. Until it backs up its shiny claims with real action to end coal expansion and accelerate decarbonisation, its steelmaking will continue to melt the world’s glaciers,” Husting added.

The Fair Steel Coalition behind the Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames campaign is calling on ArcelorMittal to invest in future proofing its operations through a fast and fair transition away from coal-based production, not enriching its shareholders.