The United Nations Conference on Biodiversity COP15, currently taking place in Montreal, aims to “transform society’s relationship with biodiversity”. Seven of the world’s wealthiest countries, have formed a new alliance to force mining companies to adopt more socially conscious and environmentally responsible standards as they expand their vital mineral supply chains.
“The Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance is a historic step forward for Canada and our international partners in our collective efforts to secure the responsibly sourced critical minerals we need to power the clean energy transition,” Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said. Canada, the host of the event, took initiative and proposed the alliance, all G7 countries but Italy have joined, as has Australia.
“The United States is pleased to join the Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance in partnership with Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Japan. As the world transitions to a clean energy economy, demand for key critical minerals for everything from electric vehicle batteries and motors to solar panels and wind turbines is set to increase dramatically,” a press release from the White House reads.
Critical minerals, “such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles” writes the International Energy Agency. In 2020, the World Bank anticipated that by 2050, demand for essential minerals would increase by 500%.
At the moment, China clearly dominates in the field of critical minerals, especially in refining, processing and use of these minerals in production. Canada and the United States are among the Western democracies that have made it clear that China cannot be allowed to monopolise critical minerals in a way that gives it political leverage similar to that which Russia has over oil and gas exports to Europe.
The announcement came just days after Canada published its domestic Critical Minerals Strategy, that “will increase the supply of responsibly sourced critical minerals and support the development of domestic and global value chains for the green and digital economy.”