Tamara Lundgren is the chairman and CEO of Radius Recycling (formerly Schnitzer Steel). The company already makes some of the lowest-carbon-emissions steel in the world, and was recently named the most sustainable company in the world by research firm Corporate Knights. Now Lundgren is leading a rebrand to focus on scrap-metal recycling with the goal of creating a circular economy for sustainable steel.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Inconsistent climate-change mitigation policies can create competitive disadvantages for export-exposed companies, or create incentives to shift economic activities to countries with less stringent rules. Trade agreements that incorporate carbon tariffs can help level the playing field between countries that regulate carbon emissions and those that do not. In 2021, the U.S. and E.U. pledged to negotiate trade agreements for steel and aluminum that consider the carbon intensity of these commodities. International cooperation through trade negotiations can ensure fair competition among global industries, incentivize emission-reduction investments in manufacturing, and mitigate carbon leakage.
What is a climate technology that isn’t getting the attention or funding it deserves?
Funding for climate technology has seen some tightening due to interest-rate increases and market volatility. This compares to record investments a year ago, enhanced by funding from the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. Climate-adaptation technologies deserve increased focus. Currently, less than 10% of climate finance is allocated to adaptation programs like flood-resistant infrastructure, including for our ports and transportation networks. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that countries must spend $300 billion annually by 2030 and $500 billion by 2050 to meet future needs, which is five to 10 times the current investment.
What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?
Comprehensive permitting reform is essential to unlock the clean energy transition, facilitate the expansion of the transmission grid, accelerate low-carbon projects like solar and offshore wind, and foster the development of a hydrogen pipeline. Current permitting processes often suffer from lengthy delays, regulatory complexities, and overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities. Streamlining and harmonizing these processes would eliminate unnecessary barriers and expedite the deployment of clean-energy infrastructure. By creating a more efficient and predictable permitting framework, we can attract investment, stimulate job growth, and rapidly scale up renewable-energy projects, paving the way for a sustainable and decarbonized future.
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