Many of the minerals necessary for wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, batteries and other renewable energy sources originate in war zones or developing countries where corruption, human rights abuses and violence are common.
But a recently released International Institute for Sustainable Development report entitled “Green Conflict Minerals: The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy” suggests companies and governments can do more to prevent sustainable energy from fueling those conflicts.
“Stories of armed groups operating cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and of riots breaking out around bauxite mining in Guinea are just two examples that have raised this issue’s profile, but it’s something that needs to be championed by the same voices correctly calling for a green economic transition,” said report co-author Clare Church in a press release. “Most of these metals are not covered in existing conflict mineral legislation, with the exception of tin.”
To avoid fueling the conflicts marring those countries, sustainable energy boosters need to take a careful look at their supply chains and the regulations and laws that govern them at home and in faraway countries, the report suggested.
“There’s no question we need to shift to a low-carbon economy. This technology will get us there,” said Church. “But we need to do it without blood on our hands.”
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