For our November issue, we take a look at efforts to address the human rights and environmental risks in minerals powering the energy transition, and chart progress overcoming some of the biggest challenges on the road to more sustainable transport

This month, we are taking a deep dive into efforts to clean up the production of the so-called “energy transition minerals” needed to drive the low-carbon economy. As Martin Wright reports, the collapse of the tailings dam at Vale’s mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, in January this year was only the most spectacular recent example of the environmental and human rights toll of mining, a sector that is becoming increasingly important due to the rapid rise in adoption of renewable energy and electric cars. He charts progress by the industry itself and the increasing pressure being brought by investors.

One of the most crucial issues is tackling the significant human rights and environmental risks of the small-scale artisanal mining sector, particularly in cobalt. Catherine Early reports on how blockchain is being trialled by companies, including IBM, to bring the necessary transparency that could keep 150 million artisanal miners in global supply chains.

With the EU targeting a third of cars being electric by 2030, the poorest country in western Europe, Portugal, sees a bright future in exploiting the mineral critical for batteries. But as Oliver Balch reports from Porto, the “new gold” could turn to dust if local opposition is not assuaged.

Aviation biofuels producer SkyNRG has partnered with KLM (Credit: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock )

Our other briefing this month highlights progress in overcoming some of the biggest challenges on the road to more sustainable transport. With the IPCC warning against growing crops for fuel, alternatives to kerosene are nowhere near the 31bn litres needed by 2030. Angeli Mehta reports on the companies, including LanzaTech and SkyNRG, that are producing the next generation of bioenergy.

She also highlights the growing calls to tax aviation in Europe, where the “flight-shame” movement is expanding, but not fast enough to curb galloping demand.

Mehta also looks at prospects for decarbonising road transport using hydrogen, as net-zero emissions targets in UK and France help to drive the regulations and incentives that will be needed to finally take this low-carbon transport technology to scale as well as the digital drive to make travel safer and roads less congested in Africa

I report on progress on India’s ambitions to electrify road transport and find that while a market for electric private cars is still some way off, in public transport and shared vehicles such as buses, taxis, motorcycles and rickshaws, the EV revolution is well under way. 

Next month, we will be asking whether the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures recommendations are succeeding in their aim of driving a more low-carbon economy. And we will end 2019 by publishing some of Oliver Balch’s “disruptors” series of interviews with sustainability leaders.

You can download the free to view digital pdf of the November magazine or view our archive by clicking here.


energy transition  cobalt  lithium  Blockchain  mining  artisanal miners  biofuels  IBM  LanzaTech  SkyNRG  Aviation  Flygskam  hydrogen  net-zero emissions  electric vehicles  sustainable transport 

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