20 September 2018

Energy transition may lead to new “green” conflict minerals

A new report published by IISD explores how the accelerating energy transition will affect security and conflict within the larger context of sustainable development. This transitioning requires countries to adopt green energy technologies that are profoundly dependent on mineral and metal inputs, ergo inextricably linking them to the mining industry. “How they are sourced will help ensure whether this transition supports peaceful, sustainable development in the countries where strategic reserves are found or reinforces weak governance and exacerbates local tensions and grievances.”

Due to the critical role they play in the production of green energy technologies, the demand for minerals such as Lithium, Colbalt etc will grow at an unparalleled pace. Historically, the extraction of minerals has contributed as a breeding ground for violence. In places of political instability and weak governmental institutions, the process of this transition could potentially be linked to human rights abuses and violence.

The report examines how the demand for minerals could affect fragility and security of producing states by overlaying maps showing fragility and those of regions with high reserves of minerals.To illustrate this, it delves into various case studies that include DRC, Cuba, China, Guatemala, Ghana etc  with country specific contexts that take into account conflict implications. This issue is linked to a broader debate on the new geopolitics of the energy transition, which will feature prominently during the forthcoming Planetary Security Conference on 19 and 20 February 2019. 

Click here to read the full report.