With European countries pushing for a worldwide expansion of green economy as the solution to the climate crisis, the need for a sustainable and growing supply of rare metals to support this transition is ever increasing.
Dr Nem Singh draws our attention to the disproportionate costs borne by countries from the global south as producers of these rare metals.
The energy transition unevenly distributes the benefits of the green economy. While control over technology and the production of high value-added manufacturing goods in the wind turbine, solar, and other renewables are concentrated in East Asia and the West, developing countries holding most of the reserves of critical raw materials are likely to remain commodity producers for the world economy. Dr Jewellord (Jojo) Nem Singh addressed this at a webinar organized by the Green European Foundation to discuss ‘Metals and Climate Justice - Mining our way into a climate-neutral future’.
Dr Nem Singh highlighted the limited knowledge on how mineral producers can transform their resource endowment into capital-intensive, employment-generating sectors. Only a few mining countries have managed to deploy their strategic extractive sectors into higher value yielding industries linked to manufacturing.
Taking stock of the lessons from the recent past, he suggests that policy-makers must rethink their strategies around the development of their own productive capacity in the mining sector as well as design fiscal policies that can capture more mineral rents. They must also use the income from mining to spur further economic activities beyond mineral production. He noted how the mining industry is often hampered by limited engagement with affected communities. Hence, participation of communities in the acquisition of social and environmental licenses is equally important.
Social equity needs to be the guiding principle when designing and implementing policies to support the clean technology transition. We need to accept that mineral states will seek to transform their primary raw materials into potential engines of growth through industrial policy and creating linkages between minerals and productive economy, and political leaders will aspire to gain more participation in the lucrative segments of the global value chains of clean technology-based manufacturing.