Steelmaker ArcelorMittal challenged on olympic sponsorship Sportswashing


Launched with protest activities near the Fos-sur-Mer steel plant, and in Marseilles today (1), the Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames campaign is challenging ArcelorMittal to step up and be the champion it pretends to be. The company has a history of big claims on climate leadership while backtracking on decarbonisation promises (2). It has an addiction to coal-based steel production, a track record of pollution and land-grabs around its plants globally, and it has been silent in the face of human rights abuses (3). Campaigners are calling on ArcelorMittal to put workers, communities and environment first.

ArcelorMittal is responsible for the same amount of emissions as Belgium. It pledged to spend USD1.5 billion on decarbonisation over the last three years, but has spent just USD500 million. In the same three-year period, it handed USD11 billion to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends, and soaked up billions in subsidies from European governments to decarbonise its operations. The company has previously said that the total cost for its planned clean steel transition actions to 2030 would be USD10 billion.

“Last week we had a meeting in ArcelorMittal’s office and explained the pollution, ill-health and land conflicts that we experience around their Vanderbijlpark Steel. It was an open conversation, but just words. I was in that same office twice already, in 2008 and 2009, and the problems have not been solved. ArcelorMittal must be held to account for its environmental, social and climate impacts in South Africa and globally,” said Samson Mokoena, Community defender and a co-coordinator at the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), South Africa.

“If running away from promises was an Olympic sport, ArcelorMittal would be a gold medalist. It promises a lot to communities harmed by its business, and to taxpayers and governments to secure subsidies to cut climate emissions. Then it backtracks on commitments. ArcelorMittal has failed to live up to compensation agreements it made with victims of its operations, and all the money it says it needs to live up to its shiny decarbonisation claims appears to have been spent lining its shareholder’s pockets instead,” said Caroline Ashley, SteelWatch Director.

“ArcelorMittal Liberia entered my family's and 25 other families' land with an excavator for five days while we were away. They destroyed all our crops to make an access road for the construction of a dam, and flooded the whole area leaving us with no place to live and no crops to eat. We received no compensation. Communities all around the world, including in Marseille, have been hurt by ArcelorMittal. It’s time for the company to take responsibility,” said Dada Konkah, Community defender and the General Secretary at the Nimba Advocates for the Environment, Economic Empowerment and Resource Rights (NAEEERR), Liberia.



Caroline Ashley - Spokesperson (EN)
Director, SteelWatch (United Kingdom), +44 7947 691 911

Samson Mokoena - Spokesperson
Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (South Africa)

Dada Konkah - Spokesperson
Community defender and the General Secretary at the Nimba Advocates for the Environment, Economic Empowerment and Resource Rights (NAEEERR) (Liberia), +23 17750 84490

Eduardo Mosqueda (ES)
Executive Director of Tskini (Mexico)

Carlota Ruiz-Bautista (ES)
Environmental Lawyer, IIDMA (Spain), +34 3 9308 6846

Media Liaison

Greg McNevin (EN)
Communications, SteelWatch (Australia), +61 475 247 044

Xavier De Wannemaeker (FR)
Media Liaison (France)
+31 6 2635 9683


  1. Photography of the activities in Marseille outside ArcelorMittal’s FOS-Sur-Mer steel plant, and the arrival of the Olympic torch will be available respectively from 09:00CEST on May 8, and after the torch’s official arrival in the afternoon:
    As part of its official Olympic sponsorship, ArcelorMittal has provided “steel with a reduced carbon footprint” for the torch that is carrying the Eternal Flame, and the cauldron. The reduced carbon footprint comes from two factors: First, the steel is 100% made from scrap in an electric arc furnace (EAF); and second, ArcelorMittal indirectly buys enough renewable electricity to cover the consumption of the EAF. ArcelorMittal says the combination of the two can lead to a carbon footprint “as low as approximately 300kg of CO2 per tonne of finished steel”, though it does not indicate the exact total carbon footprint of the torches. This process is not new, recycled steel is useful but common. It does not represent a technological shift to decarbonise on a pathway that is compatible with the Paris Agreement or a 1.5C climate scenario.
  2. SteelWatch Arcelormittal Corporate Climate Assessment 2024:
    In Spain, ArcelorMittal secured a EUR450 million government grant to develop zero emissions, green hydrogen-based steelmaking. However, it has already watered down these plans, opting to delay the use of green hydrogen in favour of carbon intensive fossil gas, all while apparently clinging on to the subsidy.
  3. Instances of land grabs, ecosystem destruction, loss of livelihoods, and serious health problems have been documented, as well as ArcelorMittal’s silence on enforced disappearances around its mines and steel plants in Mexico, Brazil, Liberia, and South Africa, in the new report:
  4. Shiny Claims, Dirty Flames is a campaign organised by an alliance of different organisations, facilitated by the Fair Steel Coalition, and hosted by SteelWatch, calling on ArcelorMittal to:
    - Respect human rights, in actions not just words;
    - Stop making empty promises and be a real climate champion;
    - Invest in future proofing your company, not enriching shareholders;
    - Put workers, communities, and our environment first;
    - Stop its dirty tricks: be accountable and transparent.
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