UN Launches Panel on Critical Minerals

by | 29. Apr 2024 - 09:22 | Politics

Focus on environmental and social challenges connected to the industry.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed a new panel on critical minerals essential for the global energy transition. The aptly named Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals aims to tackle challenges across the entire mineral value chain. It focuses on environmental and social issues arising from mining minerals like lithium, cobalt, or rare earth elements. The panel comprises nearly 100 developed and developing Governments and includes most of the world’s biggest critical mineral producers, including Australia, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia. It also includes many of the world’s top consumers of critical minerals, such as the United States and the European Union. Together, the broad panel seeks to lay out guidelines to avert some of the connected human rights abuses and environmental harms and ensure that developing nations are not excluded from the connected prosperity of critical mineral mining. “A world powered by renewables is a world hungry for critical minerals,” Guterres said at the launch, emphasizing that climate efforts “cannot trample over the poor.”  

At COP28, the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, governments agreed to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030. To fuel this, a significant ramp-up in the supply of critical minerals is needed: consultancy EY concluded that “the energy transition simply won’t happen without mining.” Yet, a recent study published in the journal Nature highlighted a lack of data on the impact of mining globally. The panel could help change this. Despite these ambitious targets, the guidelines are set to be voluntary without a mechanism to enforce them.

Photo: iStock/FotoGablitz

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