Drivers of change – from the affordability of renewable energy to government policies to the world’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions – have created the perfect environment for the rise of low-carbon technology. Although it is not widely recognized, clean energy technologies such as wind, solar and batteries are actually more material intensive than current traditional fossil-fuel-based energy systems. Meanwhile, demand for minerals and metals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel– all of which are used in used in low-carbon technologies—will gather pace in the future and sustainable and reliable extraction and production will need to keep up. According to the World Bank’s own analysis, global production of critical minerals used in low-carbon technologies is projected to rise by 965% for lithium, 585% for cobalt, 383% for graphite, 241% for indium, 173% for vanadium by 2050.
At a time when the world is shifting to a low-carbon future and combating climate change, development institutions are accelerating commitments to change the way we source minerals and metals. At the Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced their support of the World Bank’s Climate-Smart Mining Facility, a first of its kind fund, designed to make mining for low-carbon minerals and metals climate-smart and sustainable. The Ministry has committed $1m to the Facility, and plans to commit $4m more. The trust fund brings together governments, industry, financial institutions and private investors to support the responsible extraction and processing of minerals and metals, while minimizing social, environmental, and climate footprints. It aims to help developing countries and emerging economies benefit from the skyrocketing demand for low-carbon minerals, taking a circular economy approach and reusing minerals in a way that respects the environment.