Sustainable Development of Clean Energy

Adrienne SorensenSeptember 26, 20189970

Sustainable Development of Clean Energy

There is a stark contrast between the fossil fuel divestment movement that large banks’ are focused on and the concern of ethical mining and mineral sourcing.


Continued support and reliance on unethical mining result in grave consequences for companies involved. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a global firm that focuses on sustainable development.


They published a report called Green Conflict Minerals: The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy. It dives into the reality of the possible consequences for poorly-managed extraction of minerals for solar energy equipment.


Conflicting Priorities

In addition, there’s conflicting priorities within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals that have to be properly balanced. Clare Church, the IISD research officer says, “This question is extremely important, especially considering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs,” Church says.


“As we move to attain the aims set out by SDGs 7 and 13 – for clean water and climate action respectively – it is essential we do so without jeopardizing SDG 16 – for peace, justice, and strong institutions. Like current movements supporting fossil fuels divestment, there is absolutely room for a movement to divest away from businesses and organizations that support regional fragility, conflict, and violence”.


Church says, “And there is evidence to support this: demand is coming from both consumers and governments, as well as industry to shift to more responsible supply chains, with an increasing number of companies making efforts to dub their product ‘conflict-free.


Over time, plenty of businesses will have to initiate these efforts anyway. The upcoming EU Conflict Mineral Regulation will directly apply to almost 1,000 importers and 500 smelters and refiners of 3TG – whether they are based in the EU or not.


Although the identified “green conflict minerals” in our report are not covered by the Regulation, this is a massive first step towards making our mineral supply chains more responsible on an international level.”


Truth of Supply Chains ​​​​​​

International corporate firms such as Apple and Google intentionally move away from depending on the traditional and poorly-managed supply chains mentality. The old method relies less on social responsibility and focuses solely on maximizing profit.


An instance of this would be Apple launching $300 million China Clean Energy Fund to partner with its suppliers to increase their use of renewables energy. Church states, “what we need are supply chain best practices that foster peace and sustainability in mineral-rich developing states.


Then the mineral wealth will truly benefit the country’s environment and people. “These demands – from governments, consumers, and industry – are all part of this broader movement to divest from practices that foster regional fragility. The foundations are in place, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”


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