Podcast: Can the planet support a clean energy transition?

Date: September 30, 2020

Source: Mongabay
Author: Mike Gaworecki

On a recent episode of the Mongabay Newscast, Mongabay looks at whether or not mining is compatible with the clean energy revolution.

In order to rein in global climate change, we need to ramp up renewable energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But the technologies that will drive the transition to clean energy require large amounts of mined metals and minerals — things like copper, used for wiring and electric motors, lithium and cobalt, used in batteries, and rare earth elements used in everything from solar cells and wind turbines to electric cars.

The mining process, however, creates significant amounts of air and water pollution and deforestation, and has led to numerous conflicts with local communities. These impacts of mining, of course, are not consistent with the goals of ushering in a new era of clean, green energy. And as deployment of renewable energy technologies increases in the coming years, demand for minerals will only continue to skyrocket — so much so that a concerted effort by the mining industry is underway to open up vast areas of the ocean floor to minerals mining, despite how little we know about the ecosystems under the ocean’s surface. If we’re not careful about how we meet the growing demand for minerals, it could actually imperil the promises of the transition to clean energy.

To help us dive into all of this, the podcast speaks with Ian Morse, a journalist who follows the minerals mining and clean energy beat closely. Morse is here to talk about his recent reports for Mongabay, which help illustrate some of the most pressing issues with mining today.

They also speak with Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, who discusses the threats posed by deep sea mining and tells us why more mining may not be the best way to meet the demand for minerals.

Listen here.