The climate emergency leaves us no choice but to make a swift transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies. However, the wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles that we need in order to become climate-neutral require lots of metals. We take it for granted that these metals will be available. But they have to be dug up from the ground. Some of them are scarce. By 2030, the world will need twice as much lithium and cobalt as current mines can supply, and 25% more copper, according to the International Energy Agency.

The countries of the European Union have largely outsourced metal mining to the Global South. This creates supply risks, but also a responsibility for the social and environmental abuses associated with mining in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (cobalt), South Africa (manganese, platinum), Chile (copper, lithium) and China (silicon metal, rare earths).

Do local and indigenous communities in mining regions in the Global South pay the price for our green ambitions? Are women disproportionately affected? Where is the climate justice in that? Do the supply chain due diligence and the recycling initiatives that the EU is promoting represent a break with neo-colonial extractivism?

Transnational workshop

We discussed these questions with members of Green parties from both metal-mining and metal-importing countries, as well as other stakeholders. This transnational workshop was part of the Global Greens' online conference Connecting for Green Action. The Global Greens comprise more than a hundred Green parties worldwide.

Missed the workshop? Watch the recording

This workshop is over. You can watch the recording here.

Background information

Participants were invited to prepare for this workshop by reading the publication Metals for a Green and Digital Europe by the Green European Foundation and Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks. Download it for free in English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Polish or Czech.