Solar and electric cars used to stem the climate crisis pose another threat to humans and the environment: the mining boom,media Outlet The Verge reported. Getting rid of fossil fuels depends on technologies such as batteries and solar panels, which can provide alternative forms of energy. However, the mining of raw materials can affect human rights and undermine fragile ecosystems. As governments and businesses try to address climate change by creating renewable energy sources, they will need to consider other issues identified in this process.
A more sustainable future may depend on how leaders manage demand for metals and minerals, including cobalt and lithium needed for rechargeable batteries, policy experts warn in a report in the journal Science.
Mining, metal and material extraction are the hidden basis for a low-carbon transition. “But it is too dirty, dangerous and destructive to continue the current trajectory,” Benjamin Sovacool, lead author of the paper and professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex, said in a statement. “
For example, for environmentally friendly energy, batteries are both an important source of optimism and frustration. They power and store energy for greener vehicles, so solar and wind energy can still be used even in adverse weather conditions. The disadvantage is that these batteries are made of cobalt. Most of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where cobalt mining employers employ large quantities of child labour to meet the growing demand for metals. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla were all named defendants in a lawsuit filed in December over the death of child labor at the cobalt mine.
According to the World Bank, cobalt production related to low-carbon energy is expected to grow by 585 percent by 2050. The amount of lithium needed for batteries could also increase by 965 per cent by 2050. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that the world needs to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions around 2050 to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.
“We think the low-carbon society that will be built in 2050 needs all of these things. But for now, we risk protecting these things at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Sovacool said. He told The Verge that, despite his previous research, it was shocking to see first-hand the effects of cobalt mining in congo.
There is no easy answer to finding less harmful ways to dig for what we need. One emerging option is deep-sea mining. This will open up new sources of cobalt, but could destroy ecosystems that scientists are only just beginning to explore. According to Sovacool, the cost and benefits of each new project need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis. Writing in the journal Science, he recommended that countries consider mineral supply chains in their climate plans and global agreements such as the Paris climate agreement.