Transition minerals open statement for COP27
More than 230 organisations call on COP leaders to urgently ensure the exploitation of transition minerals doesn’t undermine a just and equitable energy transition
COP27 is a key moment to initiate a real shift in the way minerals are extracted and used, and to look at solutions that will reduce dependence on mining.
The world needs to stop burning fossil fuels. Climate change is already happening and to prevent the worst impacts we must accelerate the just transition to cleaner, safer energy.
In moving to renewable energy technologies, the world will be swapping reliance on one set of natural resources for another. An estimated sixfold increase in the production of minerals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and copper will be required to help produce, transport, store and use electricity produced by cleaner sources such as wind, water and sun.
But the extraction of minerals is already beset by corruption and opacity, and mining often takes place at great cost to the health and livelihoods of local people. Research indicates that women and girls, Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders are disproportionately harmed by mining. Local communities are often excluded from decision-making and see little economic benefit from extraction. The sector is also environmentally damaging and contributes significantly to climate change.
Fierce competition, demand and pursuit of profit in the transition mineral rush will increase pressure on producing countries to “fast-track” licensing and open up mining in sensitive and high risk areas. This leaves the process open to corruption and worsens human rights and environmental abuses, in particular pollution and contamination of water and land gravely affecting the health of workers and surrounding populations. These impacts are already felt most by indigenous and land-based communities on the front lines of extraction.
Mining for transition minerals which is marred by poor governance, corruption, overconsumption and little care for people and the planet will only slow climate action.
Huge amounts of resources will be flowing into the energy sources of the future. It is vital that the emerging transition minerals market is well-regulated, transparent, just and equitable, and does not replicate the exploitation and injustices of the past. This requires an urgent coordinated effort to transform the way minerals are extracted and consumed.
COP27 is an important moment for the international community to initiate a real shift in the way minerals are extracted and used, and secure binding commitments to tackle climate change. Failing to put people at the centre of the required energy transition will result in it being both inadequate to tackle the climate crisis, and unjust for the most vulnerable people in the world.
To ensure responsible extraction, sourcing and processing of transition minerals that contribute to a successful energy transition, governments, companies, international institutions and investors must:
Centre people & planet:
- Base the decision to extract on a holistic assessment of the true costs and benefits of minerals extraction and processing. This goes beyond mineral sales proceeds, to look at the impact on people, the environment, biodiversity and the climate.
- Respect mining-exclusion zones to protect people and the environment in high risk areas.
- Ensure meaningful consultation and participation for all communities affected by mining. Indigenous peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent must be prioritised and respected, including the right to give or withhold consent as aligned with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Only extract minerals in line with the most rigorous international human rights and environmental standards through meaningful, transparent and gender-responsive mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence. Guarantee effective, independent monitoring of mitigation and corrective measures.
- Support a global moratorium on deep sea mining until adequate scientific research is undertaken to understand the impacts on deep sea biodiversity, and ensure decision-making at international level – including by the International Seabed Authority, is transparent, accountable, inclusive and participatory.
- Develop and prioritise mining approaches that minimise social, environmental and climate impacts. This includes cooperating to design circular solutions and technologies that reduce the overall consumption of transition minerals, increase reuse, and reduce the carbon footprint of the sector.
Strengthen governance & anti-corruption:
- Adopt and champion the comprehensive disclosure of contracts and licences (including annexes), project-level payments to governments by mining companies and commodity traders, beneficial ownership information, and transparency in the procurement of goods and services. The EITI Standard is a starting point to ensure transparency in mineral extraction.
- Explicitly identify and mitigate corruption risks throughout all activities and operations, with specific attention paid to high risk processes such as the award of licences, permits and approvals, procurement, commodity sales and trading, and state-owned companies. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals is a starting point to initiate this work.
- Implement Integrity Due Diligence, including fit and proper person criteria, to all participants in the mineral supply chain.
- Implement legal frameworks to protect the rights of activists, whistle-blowers, human rights and land defenders, journalists and independent media, and dismantle laws and policies that hinder free civil society and media.
Ensure a globally equitable transition:
- Prevent political and business elites from capturing transition minerals for personal profit. This lowers the benefit to the citizens, deepens inequalities, and increases the costs of transition minerals.
- Implement transparent and equitable proceeds and tax management, including planning for proceeds volatility. Allocate proceeds to sustainable development projects that enable a just transition and economic diversification and ensure that frontline communities – particularly women – see benefits from mining.
- Ensure transition minerals drive a truly global energy transition for all countries, not just developed countries. This includes ensuring global support and investment to enable host countries to develop stronger economies and employment, for example through in-country processing of transition minerals and local procurement.
- Prioritise policies and investments aimed at reducing consumption, including increasing funding and resources for public transport, energy efficiency and other demand reduction initiatives, and through investing in materials recycling and reuse.
- Create and strengthen safe global, national and local spaces where people can engage meaningfully on energy transition policy and legislation, with particular attention given to spaces for traditionally marginalised groups such as women and gender minorities, Indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and young people.
To add your organisation’s name to the list of signatories, please take 1 minute to fill in this form.
PWYP is also signatory of the open letter to UNFCCC and State parties for COP27 coordinated by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International (IPRI), and of the Declaration on Mining and the Energy Transition coordinated by Earthworks.
DiXi Group is the list of signatories