Speaking at the 5th Paris Peace Forum, Razan Al Mubarak highlighted the environmental paradox that the world now faces as more countries fight climate change by shifting toward green technologies, which are reliant on critical minerals. Ms. Al Mubarak spoke during the panel session, “Acting together for a responsible critical minerals sector,” which included the introduction of a new initiative that will enable an ecological transition to green technologies by ensuring that global supply chains for critical minerals function responsibly.
The move from fossil fuels to green technology in the race toward net zero is increasing demand for copper, lithium, cobalt, nickel, and rare earth minerals to develop things like electric vehicles, renewable energies, and battery storage. Demand for these minerals is expected to increase fourfold by 2030.
“Of course, we know there are consequences for this demand,” Ms. Al Mubarak said. “All of these materials are extracted, many times in areas that are extremely ecologically vulnerable as well as socially vulnerable.”
Ms. Al Mubarak highlighted the issue's complexity, urging leaders not to forget about nature and people in the race toward net zero:
“When we talk about critical minerals, it’s really important that we speak about them within three significant mindsets. It’s not just to address the issue of climate change, but we must also understand it in the context of nature and biodiversity, and then thirdly, in terms of people. If we are not careful, we could end up addressing the issue of climate change but at the cost of destroying nature—our very framework of human life—but also at the cost of local communities who are sitting on this incredible resource.”
Each year, the Paris Peace Forum brings together several hundred renowned speakers and moderators from around the world. This year’s theme was “Riding out the Multicrisis,” and the two-day event focused on the multi-faceted challenge that the world now faces with worsening climate change, successive COVID-19 waves, deepening inequalities, and new geopolitical conflicts.
Ms. Al Mubarak was joined by Philippe Varin, chairman of the World Materials Forum and vice president of the International Chamber of Commerce; Justin Vaïsse, founder and director general of the Paris Peace Forum; Shunichi Miyanaga, chairman of the board of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.; Stacy Hope, managing director of Women in Mining (WIM) UK, and chairperson of the advisory board of the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA); and Julia Reinaud, Europe senior director for Breakthrough Energy.