Version 3.2

The unexplored field of sufficiency in the research on future mineral demand for clean energy

The undeniable material dimension of the energy transition has generated growing attention over the last few years. The forecast of a strong increase in the demand for some metals is favoring the development of policies that support the mining industry and expand the extractive frontier, both in the global South and in the global North. However, most of the clean energy scenarios underlying the reports on the future mineral demand reproduce three problematic elements: strong decoupling of economic growth, mobility based on private vehicles and colonial inequalities. This seriously undermines confidence in representing realistic, desirable, safe and just scenarios for the transition to a decarbonized global economy. Technocentric scenarios have worrying consequences outside of the paper when applied to policy making. Therefore, it is urgent to introduce the analysis of future mineral demand from alternative scenarios based on sufficiency, lifestyle changes, demand-side strategies and degrowth. Important progress has been made in pushing sufficiency to the core of the energy and climate dimensions of transition. Nevertheless, the translation of these results into the mineral dimension is still mainly absent from the public discussion. The few existing publications throw compelling results that can help us question the inevitability of a huge increase in the extractivist dynamics, and the associated social and environmental damage. Our purpose here is to compile and highlight the contributions made in this regard so far, to show some of the promising results and to emphasize the need for further development of specific research in this field.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 12:45
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-10
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Technology and science for degrowth


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