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SP02 - Mining Governance and Green Energy Transitions: Developmental Implications for the Global South

Convened by Aidan Barlow, Ben Radley, Yixian Sun and Roy Maconachie (University of Bath)

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Transitioning from a carbon intensive to a net zero global economy is one of the most urgent tasks facing humanity today. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and a host of regional and national policies and regulations signal the imperative to significantly reduce reliance on fossil fuels in the  coming decades. However, many of these strategies and agreements, as well as the climate scenarios that support them, often neglect the high intensity of mineral resource extraction required to drive the transition. A considerable number of metals and minerals are required to achieve a low-carbon economy, with the global South playing a critical role in supplying many of the required raw materials. With some of these metals and minerals – such as cobalt, copper, lithium, and nickel – projected demand and production is forecast to soar in the coming decades, allowing for greater exploration and production of metals that are essential for the construction of wind and solar energy generation infrastructure, as well as energy storage. This has raised important questions as to whether a renewed push for sustainable development will foster wider prosperity and a new relationship between extraction and development, and whether a low-carbon global economy would reproduce (and potentially deepen) inequalities within and between countries. This panel invites papers that explore emerging themes around mining and the energy transition in different parts of the global South (e.g., Africa, Asia, and Latin America), investigating the socio-political and economic impacts, broadly defined, and at a variety of spatial levels, of the mineral and metal extraction required for the energy transition.