Climate change is depressing. In a Guardian interview, Greta Thunberg’s father shared how his daughter had been deeply depressed at the age of 11, her fears rooted in the climate crisis. With the increased omnipresence of information on social media, news, and websites, it’s no wonder that people are experiencing climate anxiety, particularly those who have never known a time where research meant borrowing a book from the library.
Fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases - so a simple solution to climate change should be to switch to low carbon energy sources and renewable technologies – wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles. Consumers heave a sigh of relief, we can make choices in our lives to prevent climate catastrophe, such as buying an electric car. So far, so good.
But what happens when you come across an article – ‘How Green is Your Electric Vehicle’ in the Financial Times*. Suddenly the solution to climate change – rapidly transitioning to renewables, is not so straightforward. Could the electric vehicle that should be solving climate change, be part of the problem? The question arises, what exactly is an electric vehicle? Where did it come from? Who made it and what is it made of?
It’s easy to imagine that electric vehicles come straight out of vibrant billboards. A red Tesla shines in a showroom where it has always belonged. Marketing has erased the historic remnants of a journey across continents that have transformed elements from the earth into electric motors for the road.
At the Critical Minerals Association, we’re optimistic. We believe strongly in the fight against climate change, protecting biodiversity and ensuring that local communities are supported. We also know that to develop renewable energy sources, we need to build these technologies using the metals and minerals beneath our feet.
When we read ‘How Green is your Electric Vehicle,’ we know that there are significant issues that need to be addressed in critical mineral supply chains – child labour in artisanal mining, CO2 emissions, and employee safety to name a few. We also know that our answer to ‘How Green is your Electric Vehicle’ is ‘it could be greener – and we know how this could be done’.
The Critical Minerals Industry is brimming with enthusiastic, talented individuals who care about the world we live in, and who are teeming with ideas, from innovative satellite monitoring to prevent disasters, to eDNA biodiversity research, and fingerprinting metals to locate the precise origin of a material.
If we could map the provenance of metals from their original source, monitor carbon emissions through life cycle assessments and support mining projects with strong ‘Environmental, Social, Governance’ credentials, eventually we will be able to say ‘My Electric Vehicle is green, it is as green as it possibly could be.’
To find out more about more about what is needed to develop responsible supply chains of critical minerals for the UK’s Green Industrial Revolution, read our ESG Blueprint here.
*The Financial Times published the article 'How Green is Your Electric Vehicle' using CMA's Founding Member Minviro's lithium life cycle assessment data, and it portrays the true impacts of decarbonisation within the electric vehicle supply chain!
Article by Kirsty Benham, Co-Founder, Critical Minerals Association