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Sustainable energy transitions require enhanced resource governance

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Sustainable energy transitions require enhanced resource governance

Abstract

The global transition to fundamentally decarbonized electricity and transport systems will alter the existing resource flows of both fossil fuels and metals; however, such a transition may have unintended consequences. Here we show that the decarbonization of both the electricity and transport sectors will curtail fossil fuel production while paradoxically increasing resource extraction associated with metal production by more than a factor of 7 by 2050 relative to 2015 levels. Importantly, approximately 32–40% of this increase in resource extraction is expected to occur in countries with weak, poor, and failing resource governance, indicating that the impending mining boom may result in severe environmental degradation and unequal economic benefits in local communities. A suite of circular economy strategies, including lifetime extension, servitization, and recycling, can mitigate such risks, but they may not fully offset the growth in resource extraction. Our findings underscore the importance of institutional instruments that enhance the resource governance of entire low-carbon technology supply chains, along with circular economy practices. In the absence of such actions, the decarbonization of electricity and transport sectors may pose an ethical conundrum in which global carbon emissions are reduced at the expense of an increase in socio-environmental risks at local mining sites.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
Available online 29 May 2021
0959-6526/© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Sustainable energy transitions require enhanced resource governance
Takuma Watari
a
,
b
,
*
, Keisuke Nansai
a
,
c
, Kenichi Nakajima
a
,
b
, Damien Giurco
d
a
Global Resource Sustainability Research Section, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8506, Japan
b
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba, 277-8563, Japan
c
Integrated Sustainability Analysis, School of Physics, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, 2006, NSW, Australia
d
Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, 2007, Australia
ARTICLE INFO
Handling editor: Yutao Wang
Keywords:
Responsible sourcing
Climate change
Net zero
Carbon neutral
Mining
ABSTRACT
The global transition to fundamentally decarbonized electricity and transport systems will alter the existing
resource ows of both fossil fuels and metals; however, such a transition may have unintended consequences.
Here we show that the decarbonization of both the electricity and transport sectors will curtail fossil fuel pro-
duction while paradoxically increasing resource extraction associated with metal production by more than a
factor of 7 by 2050 relative to 2015 levels. Importantly, approximately 3240% of this increase in resource
extraction is expected to occur in countries with weak, poor, and failing resource governance, indicating that the
impending mining boom may result in severe environmental degradation and unequal economic benets in local
communities. A suite of circular economy strategies, including lifetime extension, servitization, and recycling,
can mitigate such risks, but they may not fully offset the growth in resource extraction. Our ndings underscore
the importance of institutional instruments that enhance the resource governance of entire low-carbon tech-
nology supply chains, along with circular economy practices. In the absence of such actions, the decarbonization
of electricity and transport sectors may pose an ethical conundrum in which global carbon emissions are reduced
at the expense of an increase in socio-environmental risks at local mining sites.
1. Introduction
Avoiding the catastrophic impacts of climate change will require,
inter alia, the transformation of both the electricity supply and transport
systems on an unprecedented scale in the coming decades (International
Energy Agency (IEA), 2017). Such a transition will fundamentally alter
the existing resource ows of metals and fossil fuels (Watari et al.,
2019), which could in turn induce serious trade-offs, such as land
degradation (Werner et al., 2020), biodiversity loss (Sonter et al., 2020),
damage to human health (Banza Lubaba Nkulu et al., 2018), supply
chain disruption of (de Koning et al., 2018), and the catastrophic
collapse of tailings dams (Owen et al., 2020). A key challenge in miti-
gating these trade-offs is to elucidate the anticipated resource ows in
the coming decades, and to design policies and strategies to mitigate
against these issues based on scientic knowledge.
Reecting the importance and urgency of this issue is the emergence
of large-scale studies in this domain. However, based on an extensive
review of 88 existing studies (Table S1 in the Supplementary Material),
we identied several limitations that need to be addressed. First,
although the quantities of resources used directly for low-carbon tech-
nologies is increasingly well understood, previous studies have generally
failed to capture hidden resource extraction, such as waste rock and
overburden. This decit in our understanding will likely mask the full
impact of resource extraction in response to the energy transition (Kosai
et al, 2020, 2021), which will ultimately lead to insufcient attention
being paid to potential trade-offs by government, industry, and the
community. Another limitation of previous studies is that they largely
lack the geographical resolution to identify which countries will support
the global energy transition through resource extraction. Without this
information, it is difcult to discuss areas of concern where policy in-
terventions will be most needed (L`
ebre et al., 2020). Lastly, the expec-
tations of many studies regarding the circular economy strategies
required for sustainable resource supply are very high (Stahel, 2016);
however, despite the potential of the circular economy (Reuter et al.,
2019), empirical analyses of its effect is heavily biased toward
end-of-life (EoL) recycling. Consequently, a full range of other possi-
bilities, such as reuse, repair, remanufacturing, and servitization
(Dominish et al., 2018), are being overlooked. The omission of these
* Corresponding author. Global Resource Sustainability Research Section, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506,
Japan.
E-mail address: watari.takuma@nies.go.jp (T. Watari).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Cleaner Production
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jclepro
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127698
Received 10 September 2020; Received in revised form 5 May 2021; Accepted 25 May 2021
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
2
other possibilities prevents decision makers from understanding the true
potential and/or limitations of such strategies.
This study therefore addresses these knowledge gaps by linking
global energy scenarios with a resource demand-supply models on a
county-by-country basis. Our approach captures all used and unused
resource extraction by using the total material requirement (TMR) in-
dicator (Bringezu et al., 2004; Nakajima et al., 2019), which can be used
to estimate the magnitude of resource extraction impacts in mining
countries. We also link circular economy strategies (i.e., lifetime
extension, servitization, and EoL recycling) to the models to obtain a
quantitative understanding of the potential roles of such strategies in
sustainable energy transition. Among the various sectors and related
technologies in the decarbonization process, this study focuses on the
electricity and automotive technologies, because of their large contri-
bution to decarbonization (approximately 60% of the expected CO
2
emissions reduction by 2060 is projected due to these two sectors (IEA,
2017)) and their high impact on resource extraction (Deetman et al,
2018, 2021; The World Bank, 2020; 2017).
2. Methods
2.1. Model overview
Our approach for quantifying used and unused resource extraction
under a global energy transition scenario consists of the following steps:
1. Estimate technology ows under a well below 2 C scenario.
2. Transform technology ows into metal and fossil fuel demand.
3. Convert metal and fossil fuel demand to used and unused resource
extraction.
4. Allocate used and unused resource extraction to each mining
country.
The details of each step are described in detail below. Graphical
representation of the calculation steps can be found in Fig. S1 in the
Supplementary Material.
2.1.1. Estimating technology ows under a well below 2 C scenario
The starting points of our analysis are the future electricity genera-
tion capacity and car ownership (S) for each year (t) under the Beyond 2
Degree Scenario proposed by the IEA (IEA, 2017). This scenario assumes
that the rise in global temperatures will remain below 1.75 C to 2100
compared to preindustrial levels. We estimated the annual installed
capacity (I) to 2050 by using a dynamic stock-ow model with a
stock-driven approach (Pauliuk and Heeren, 2019; Wiedenhofer et al.,
2019):
I(t) = S(t) +
t
t=0
I(t)φ(tt)(1)
where φ denotes the lifetime distribution.
The average lifetime of each technology is determined with reference
to the literature (Ashby, 2012) (Table S2 in Supplementary Material).
Lifetime is assumed to follow a normal distribution with a standard
deviation equivalent to 30% of the mean (Pauliuk et al., 2013). The
technologies considered in this paper include 15 electricity generation
technologies (oil, coal, coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS),
natural gas, natural gas with CCS, nuclear, biomass and waste, biomass
and waste with CCS, hydro, geothermal, wind onshore, wind offshore,
solar photovoltaics (solar PV), concentrating solar thermal power, and
ocean), and ve vehicle types (internal combustion engine vehicles
(ICEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
(PHEV), electric battery vehicles (BAV), and fuel cell vehicles (FCV)).
2.1.2. Transforming technology ows into metal and fossil fuel demand
Metal demand for low-carbon transition can be calculated by
multiplying the technology ow (GW or cars/year) by the material in-
tensity, MI (t/GW or car). Here, we used data from 37 sources (Table S3
in Supplementary Material) to obtain the material intensity for 20
technologies. This leads to a total of 36 metals being considered, with
209 data points (Tables S4 and S5 in Supplementary Material). We
assumed that the compiled material intensities were constant over time,
meaning that our analysis provides an upper bound estimate that does
not consider any potential decrease in material intensity due to de-
velopments in engineering and design. The metal demands are obtained
from both mine production (P) and EoL scrap (E) as shown in equations
(2) and (3):
P(t) = I(t)MI(t) − E(t)(2)
E(t) = γ(t)
t
t=0
I(t)MI(t)φ(tt)(3)
where γ denotes the EoL recycling rate (scrap collection rate ×recycling
yield).
Fossil fuel demand for operating electric technologies can be calcu-
lated by multiplying the annual electricity consumption (TWh/year) by
the fossil fuel intensity (MJ/TWh). In this case, the electricity con-
sumption data can be obtained directly from the original scenario (IEA,
2017) and fossil fuel intensity is described in the literature (Nakajima
et al., 2006). The fossil fuel demand for vehicle operation can be esti-
mated by multiplying the vehicle stock (car/year) by the annual mileage
(km/car-year) and fuel consumption (MJ/km), which can be obtained
from the literature (IEA, 2018, 2010) (Table S6 in Supplementary Ma-
terial). Importantly, there has been no inclusion of feedback loops in the
modelling of fossil fuel demand. That is, there is no modelling of the
additional energy demand required to provide the additional required
metals (mining through to production), nor is there a secondary feed-
back mechanism to more closely examine the additional metal re-
quirements for providing this additional energy; this is something that
could be considered in future studies.
2.1.3. Converting metal and fossil fuel demand to used and unused resource
extraction
The concept of TMR captures all of the resource extraction in both
used and unused extraction (Halada et al., 2001; Nakajima et al., 2019).
In this case, used extraction refers to materials that are extracted from
the environment and subsequently used in production processes,
whereas unused extraction refers to material ows that arise during the
course of extraction, but that do not directly enter the economic system
(e.g., waste rock and overburden). The used and unused extraction
induced by mine production and fuel consumption are calculated by
multiplying metal and fuel production by the TMR factor (Halada et al.,
2001; Nakajima et al., 2006) (Tables S7 and S8 in the Supplementary
Material). In this case, the data for copper, nickel, lead, and zinc were
adjusted to consider the decline in ore grade, as in a previous study
(Watari et al., 2019). The resource extraction associated with secondary
metal production from EoL scrap are not considered here as they are
negligibly small (Wuppertal Institute, 2014) and little is currently
known about these impacts (Yamasue et al., 2010).
2.1.4. Allocating used and unused resource extraction to each mining
country
Estimates for resource extraction were allocated to each mining
country by using mine production data on a country-by-country basis.
Production modelling is performed by the Geologic Resources Supply-
Demand Model (GeRS-DeMo), which determines when to bring ideal-
ized mines online using detailed data on exploitable Ultimate Recover-
able Resource. Full details of the model are described by Mohr (2010).
From multiple references, we obtained data on future production of iron
T. Watari et al.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
3
(Mohr et al., 2015), copper (Northey et al., 2014), zinc (Mohr et al.,
2018), lead (Mohr et al., 2018), and lithium (Mohr et al., 2012). The
other elements for which such data were not available were supple-
mented by assuming the 2015 production share to be constant over the
scenario period (BGS Minerals UK, 2018; U.S. Geological Survey, 2020).
Obviously, as different countries have mines that differ in quality and
technological capacity, accurate allocation of used and unused resource
extraction to each mining country requires more sophisticated data,
including the operational data for each mine (Mudd, 2010; Northey
et al., 2013). Thus, the analysis provided here should be regarded as
illustrative, rather than a realistic forecast.
We also characterized each mining country by the quality of resource
governance using the Resource Governance Index (Natural Resource
Governance Institute, 2017), which quanties the quality of governance
of the mining sector in 81 countries (see Table S9 in the Supplementary
Material). The quality of governance was evaluated as being good,
satisfactory, weak, poor, or failing, with each category assigned based
on value realization, revenue management, and enabling environment.
Insufcient resource governance means that the increase in mining de-
mand is associated with a high risk of accelerating environmental
degradation due to activities such as unclear licensing practices and
poor management, as well as negative social impacts, such as misap-
propriation of funds, corruption, and low economic growth.
2.2. Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis
Since the objective of the model is to explore the future, some
inherent uncertainty exists in the parameters considered. Therefore, we
investigated the impacts of our modelling assumptions by way of a one-
factor-at-a-time sensitivity analysis. Investigated parameters included
average lifetime, standard deviation of lifetime distribution, type of
probability distribution, material intensity, and TMR factor. In addition,
a Monte Carlo simulation was conducted in which each parameter was
randomly extracted from a specic probability distribution, and the
model was run multiple times to derive the uncertainty ranges for the
results. Hence, the model can be seen as a stochastic system, where each
parameter is understood to be the mean
μ
of a normal (Gaussian) dis-
tribution with an uncertainty parameter
σ
. In each model run, input
parameters are randomly drawn from a distribution XN(
μ
,
σ
2).
Uncertainty ranges for each parameter were established based on a
combination of multiple references and information about the reliability
of the data sources. A detailed description of the methodology can be
found in the Supplementary Material.
2.3. Circular economy scenarios
We examined the role of circular economy strategies related to solar
PV and EVs (PHEVs and BEVs) and their important role in an energy
transition. With reference to previous studies (Dominish et al., 2018;
Geissdoerfer et al., 2017; Ghisellini et al., 2016; Kirchherr et al., 2017),
we summarized the following main circular economy strategies associ-
ated with the two abovementioned technologies (i.e., solar PV and EVs)
as they relate to reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing,
recycling, durable design, and servitization. These strategies are re-
ected in the model parameters of average lifetime, EoL recycling rate,
and car ownership.
2.3.1. Lifetime extension (reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing,
and durable design)
The lifetime of a product can be extended by durable design or
replacement of defective parts. In the case of PV panels, the average
lifetime is estimated to be approximately 20 years for economic reasons,
such as the duration of feed-in tariffs, rather than due to degradation
(Ashby, 2012). Technically, a PV panel can be reused at a price that is
approximately 70% of its original value after a quality check and/or
refurbishment (IRENA and IEA-PVPS, 2016). Therefore, we assume that
the average lifetime can be doubled linearly to 2050 by implementing
policies that incentivize progress in the PV panel reuse business. For EVs,
the International Resource Panel (IRP) indicates that a design that al-
lows for easy replacement of parts that wear faster than structural parts
can increase product lifetime by 20% (IRP, 2020). We therefore assume
that, as with PV panels, extended use of EVs can be achieved by 2050.
2.3.2. Servitization (carsharing and ridesharing)
Focusing on service provisionrather than ownershipof products
can reduce the need for product ownership while meeting human needs.
Sharing cars or journeys is a typical example, and multiple business
models have already emerged in this area. In terms of its effects, Martin
et al. (2010) showed that per-capita car ownership of car-sharing sub-
scriber households had decreased by half, based on online surveys in
North America. Other scientic evidence indicates that ridesharing can
reduce vehicle occupancy by 2575% (Yin et al., 2018). We assume that
car ownership can be reduced by 25% with the penetration of carsharing
and ridesharing, which accounts for up to approximately 30% of mileage
demand by 2050 (IRP, 2020).
2.3.3. End-of-life recycling
End-of-life recycling has been studied intensively in the scientic
literature and in policy analyses (Watari et al, 2020, 2021). However,
little statistical data have been published to date on the current EoL
recycling rate of solar PV or EVs. Several studies (Dominish et al., 2019;
Giurco et al., 2019; Ziemann et al., 2018) have shown that approxi-
mately 80% of the metals used in solar PV and EVs could potentially be
recovered. We therefore assume that the current recycling rate is 0% and
that this can be increased to 80% by 2050. This recycling rate implies a
high level of efciency in the entire recycling chain, consisting of col-
lecting, dismantling, sorting, and concentrating of PV and EV
components.
3. Results
3.1. Paradoxical relationship between carbon emissions and resource
extraction
Future resource extraction patterns driven by the energy transition
show a paradoxical relationship between carbon emissions and resource
extraction (Fig. 1). Decarbonizing electricity and transport systems will
reduce resource extraction caused by fossil fuel production by about
75% and 35%, respectively, from 2015 to 2050. On the other hand,
resource extraction associated with metal production will increase
sharply in both sectors, increasing by more than a factor of 7 by 2050.
Such a substantial increase is primarily due to the increase in the
extraction of iron, copper, nickel, silver, tellurium, cobalt, and lithium
used for the production of solar PV and EVs. Combining fossil fuels and
metals, we can conrm that the decarbonization of the electricity sector
will curtail resource extraction by roughly 60% by 2050 relative to 2015
levels. Conversely, the decarbonization of the transport sector will
double resource extraction by counteracting the decline in fossil fuel
production with a surge in metal production. These ndings suggest that
the energy transition may, paradoxically, result in a reduction of carbon
emissions while increasing substantially resource extraction.
Such observations are heavily dependent on several important pa-
rameters including material intensity, TMR factor, and average lifetime
of the product (see Fig. S4 in the Supplementary Material). However, the
Monte Carlo simulations suggest that the upward trend in resource
extraction associated with metal production through 2050 is relatively
robust, even after accounting for the uncertainty inherent in the multi-
ple parameters (Fig. 2). Obviously, there is still a great deal of uncer-
tainty about the actual level of extraction, but our analysis in this
domain conrms the existence of an inverse relationship between car-
bon emissions and resource extraction associated with metal production.
T. Watari et al.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
4
Fig. 1. Total material requirements induced by the global energy transition, 20152050. The scenario is based on the pathway toward keeping the rise in global
temperatures well below 2
C by 2100 compared to preindustrial levels (IEA, 2017). The concept of total material requirement captures all of the resource extraction
in both used and unused extraction. Used extraction refers to materials that are extracted from the environment and subsequently used in production processes,
whereas unused extraction refers to material ows that arise during the course of extraction, but that do not directly enter the economic system (e.g., waste rock and
overburden). For a comparison of these values, see Fig. S2 in the Supplementary Material.
Fig. 2. Uncertainty in the results obtained for total material requirements associated with metal production, 20152050. The 95% and 99% condence intervals are
derived from Monte Carlo simulations with a sample size of 1000.
T. Watari et al.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
5
3.2. Countries with poor resource governance will underpin the energy
transition
This paradoxical relationship between carbon emissions and
resource extraction raises the question of which countries will support
the energy transition through mining activities. We nd that a sub-
stantial amount of resource extraction will occur in countries with weak,
poor, and failing resource governance, and that this extraction will un-
derpin the energy transition (Fig. 3). Over the scenario period, around
32% of resource extraction associated with metal production in the
electricity sector will take place in countries with weak, poor, and failing
governance. The situation is worse in the transport sector, where
extraction in countries with weak, poor, and failing resource governance
accounts for around 40% of the total. A closer look at the country-level
breakdown shows that while Chile and Australia, which have good and
satisfactory resource governance, respectively, are the dominant players
in resource extraction, countries with weak and poor resource gover-
nance are also high on the list (Fig. 4).
The relative change reects a more problematic picture (Fig. 5).
Decarbonization of both the electricity and transport sectors will lead to
the largest increase in resource extraction in countries with poor
governance, increasing by factors of 13 and 17, respectively, from 2015
to 2050. This category includes the DR Congo, a major producer of co-
balt and copper; Madagascar and Cuba, which are nickel-rich countries;
and Guatemala, which is rich in silver. This suggests that, if current
trends continue, the rapid increase in mining activities that will be
induced by the energy transition is likely to have negative consequences,
such as environmental degradation and misappropriation of funds,
rather than beneting local communities.
3.3. Circular economy strategies may not fully offset resource extraction
growth
The analysis described above indicates that the energy transition will
induce a sharp increase in resource extraction in countries with insuf-
cient resource governance. An emerging question is to what extent the
circular economy strategy can complement the growth of resource
extraction. We nd that a suite of circular economy strategies can reduce
resource extraction associated with metal production in the electricity
sector by 23% in 2050, compared to the case where no such strategies
are implemented (Fig. 6). Specically, a 13% reduction could come from
lifetime extension and the other 10% reduction from recycling. Looking
at the transport sector, a 60% reduction can be achieved by 2050,
reecting the more diverse strategies considered. Closer examination of
the effects of each strategy reveals that lifetime extension, through
measures such as reuse and repair, could decrease resource extraction by
8% in 2050. Combining car- and ride-sharing activities could provide an
additional 27% reduction. Further, the addition of EoL recycling could
achieve a 25% reduction, resulting in a total reduction of 60%. This
nding clearly underscores the importance of implementing circular
economy strategies along with the energy transition.
However, another key perspective in this domain is that the series of
the circular economy strategies considered in this paper may not
completely offset the increase in resource extraction. Namely, at least a
seven-fold increase in resource extraction is inevitable in countries with
poor resource governance, even if circular economy strategies are fully
implemented (Fig. S3 in the Supplementary Material). This simply
means that the set of circular economy strategies alone may not
completely eliminate the paradox in which energy transition leads to a
substantial increase in resource extraction in countries with insufcient
resource governance. A truly sustainable energy transition will require
the implementation of complementary measures to enhance resource
governance.
4. Discussion
Our analysis showed that decarbonizing the electricity and road
transport systems will reduce fossil fuel production while rapidly
increasing resource extraction associated with metal production. More
importantly, such an increase in resource extraction could be heavily
concentrated in countries with weak, poor, and failing resource gover-
nance. This means that the impending mining boom driven by the en-
ergy transition could result in severe environmental damage and lower
economic growth rather than benetting local communities. Such out-
comes should be carefully considered by energy policymakers, particu-
larly with detailed knowledge of local contexts and using deliberative
approaches, to navigate potentially deleterious trade-offs in this com-
plex area. Accordingly, in the absence of effective mitigation measures,
the energy transition may present policymakers and shareholders with
an ethical conundrum in which a reduction in global carbon emissions is
associated with a variety of socio-environmental risks at the local min-
ing site. This can ultimately lead to a worsening of the spatial disparities
between resource-consuming and resource-producing countries
(Prior et al., 2013).
Our analysis highlights the considerable potential of circular econ-
omy strategies regarding such issues. In particular, a set of strategies
comprising lifetime extension, sharing and recycling of EVs can reduce
resource extraction by more than half compared to not implementing
these strategies by 2050. In this context, while previous studies have
indicated that EoL recycling has the greatest potential for reducing the
primary demand for metals (Dominish et al., 2019; Watari et al., 2019),
our analysis adds another perspective that needs to be considered. That
is, other strategies, including lifetime extension and sharing practices,
have the same or even greater potential to reduce resource extraction as
EoL recycling. This clearly emphasizes the importance of exploring a
cross-cutting strategy that spans the entire life-cycle of low-carbon
technologies, not just the waste management stage.
In this regard, another important perspective obtained from our
analysis is that a suite of circular economy strategies alone will not
entirely offset the concomitant increase in resource extraction in coun-
tries with weak, poor, and failing resource governance. Responsible
sourcing will be required where supply cannot be met by circular
resource ows. In this context, initiatives related to responsible sourcing
or ethical minerals schemes, such as the Responsible Sourcing Initiative,
the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining, CERA (certication of raw
materials), and the Responsible Cobalt Initiative could play a signicant
role (Ali et al., 2017; Brink et al., 2021). For these approaches, inde-
pendent third-party auditing augments credibility. Given the charac-
teristics of low-carbon technologies that utilize a diversity of metals and
which have a high reliance on mining countries with weak, poor, and
failing governance, these initiatives need to be adapted widely and
immediately to achieve truly sustainable energy transition. Clearly,
32%
40%
Fig. 3. Share of cumulative total material requirements associated with metal
production from 2015 to 2050 in regions with different levels of resource
governance. The quality of resource governance is evaluated as good, satis-
factory, weak, poor, or failing, which are determined by value realization,
revenue management, and enabling environment (Natural Resource Gover-
nance Institute, 2017).
T. Watari et al.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
6
Good Satisfactory Weak Poor Failing
Fig. 4. Cumulative total material requirements associated with metal production from 2015 to 2050 in different countries. The top 20 countries with the largest
cumulative extraction volume in each sector have been selected. The color of the circle to the right of the country name reects the quality of resource governance.
(For interpretation of the references to color in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of this article.)
Fig. 5. Relative changes in total material requirements associated with metal production in each region with different levels of resource governance, 20152050.
Fig. 6. Effects of circular economy strategies on total material requirements associated with metal production, 20152050. The circular economy strategies include
lifetime extension, servitization (car and ride sharing), and end-of-life recycling.
T. Watari et al.
Journal of Cleaner Production 312 (2021) 127698
7
improving resource governance is not a trivial task, and improvements
will require a variety of approaches, not just certication schemes (Ali
et al., 2017). Our analysis does not directly identify the best way in
which resource governance can be improved, but it does identify the
main areas of concern, including technologies, metals, and countries,
that require attention.
Overall, our message is clear. First, a set of circular economy stra-
tegies spanning the entire life-cycle of low-carbon technologies, not just
EoL recycling, needs to be implemented to effectively mitigate the rapid
increase in resource extraction in countries with weak, poor, and failing
resource governance. Second, there is a need for widespread adaptation
of responsible sourcing frameworks, such as veried certication
schemes, to compensate for supplies that cannot be met by circular
resource ows. If such instruments can be optimized, then increased
mining demand could be an important source of economic growth and
adverse socio-environmental impacts could be avoided (IRP, 2019;
Sovacool et al., 2020). Furthermore, the UN Environment Assembly
resolution on mineral resource governance higlights the importance of
improved resource governance globally (UNEP, 2019). Delivering an
energy transition with enhanced resource governance therefore presents
important opportunities, not only for mitigating climate change, but also
for achieving a broader set of sustainable development goals (United
Nations, 2015), such as SDGs1 (no poverty) and SDGs8 (decent work and
economic growth).
5. Conclusion
The transition to a 1.52 C world will fundamentally change exist-
ing the resource ows of both metals and fossil fuels. However, assess-
ment of the potential impacts of such an energy system transition for
mining countries is largely missing from existing studies. This study
addresses this knowledge gap by linking global energy scenarios with a
resource demand-supply models on a county-by-country basis. Our
approach captures all used and unused resource extraction by using the
total material requirement indicator, as well as the characteristics of
each country in terms of the quality of their resource governance pol-
icies. The main ndings of the study were as follows: (1) An inverse
relationship exists between carbon emissions and resource extraction;
(2) growth in resource extraction will be concentrated in countries with
weak, poor, and failing resource governance; and (3) circular economy
strategies, including lifetime extension, servitization and recycling, can
moderate resource extraction growth, but mine development is inevi-
table. Our ndings underscore the importance of institutional in-
struments governing the global supply chains of low-carbon
technologies, such as product based certication and effective labelling
schemes. If such responses are implemented properly, the energy tran-
sition could be a catalyst for achieving broader sets of sustainable
development goals, not solely for mitigating climate change.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Takuma Watari: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Methodology,
Visualization, Writing original draft. Keisuke Nansai: Conceptuali-
zation, Methodology, Writing review & editing. Kenichi Nakajima:
Conceptualization, Writing review & editing. Damien Giurco:
Conceptualization, Visualization, Writing review & editing.
Declaration of competing interest
The authors declare that they have no known competing nancial
interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to inuence
the work reported in this paper.
Acknowledgements
This research was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid for Research
(Nos. 21K12344 and 19K24391) from the Japanese Ministry of Educa-
tion, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, from the Environment
Research and Technology Development Fund (SII-6-2
(JPMEERF20S20620)) of the Environmental Restoration and Conser-
vation Agency of Japan, and from the Japan Society for the Promotion of
Science (PE19729). We thank Mr. Wataru Takayanagi for providing
helpful comments on graph visualization, and Dr. Stephen Northey and
Dr. Steve Mohr for sharing data from their work.
Appendix A. Supplementary data
Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.
org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127698.
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... Kemp et al., 2021;Burritt and Christ, 2021;Sauer, 2021). Watari et al. (2021b) examine the role independent third-party auditing as a way to ensure the credibility of certification schemes in the mining industry. ...
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This special issue aims to create a space for rethinking current approaches to “complex orebodies”. Our introductory paper surveys recent developments in the field and identifies a range of challenges that are affecting our collective ability to engage the complex systems associated with future global metal supply. Interdisciplinary mining research remains in its infancy, with single-discipline, technical studies continuing to dominate. Social and environmental factors that lie “beyond the fence” are too often over-simplified and overlooked in resource characterisation and extractive industries. In this special issue, we profile developments in the field and engage the challenges of working in inter-disciplinary, boundary-spanning research in mining. Our paper introduces the special issue, and invites contributing authors to critically engage the conditions and prospects that lie ahead.
... For example, future electricity is anticipated to be cleaner with lower GHG emissions per kWh, but higher copper demand in infrastructure due to the adoption of more renewable energy like wind and solar. 29,90 Electricity from intermittent renewable energy like offshore wind requires grid expansion and thus needs more copper. 85−87 Although high-voltage grids could potentially reduce the transmission loss and carry more power per cable (thus less copper), other issues like installation cost and thick insulation for safety need to be scrutinized. ...
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Material efficiency (ME) can support rapid climate change mitigation and circular economy. Here, we comprehensively assess the circularity of ME strategies for copper use in the U.S. housing services (including residential buildings and major household appliances) by integrating use-phase material and energy demand. Although the ME strategies of more intensive floor space use and extended lifetime of appliances and buildings reduce the primary copper demand, employing these strategies increases the commonly neglected use-phase share of total copper requirements during the century from 23-28 to 22-42%. Use-phase copper requirements for home improvements have remained larger than the demand gap (copper demand minus scrap availability) for much of the century, limiting copper circularity in the U.S. housing services. Further, use-phase energy consumption can negate the benefits of ME strategies. For instance, the lifetime extension of lower-efficiency refrigerators increases the copper use and net environmental impact by increased electricity use despite reductions from less production. This suggests a need for more attention to the use phase when assessing circularity, especially for products that are material and energy intensive during use. To avoid burden shifting, policymakers should consider the entire life cycle of products supporting services when pursuing circular economy goals.
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We live demanding times and after two pandemic years the energy prices are rising worldwide. The world is hungry for energy and climate change calls for lower emissions. The major power energy sector challenges are the increased energy demand due to industrial activity, climate change, demographic pressures, and urbanization trends, including pandemic. The companies need efficient and reliable energy and decarbonization technologies to succeed. Industries and power generation companies had to take on many challenges while running their business operations. However, the process of decarbonization takes time and includes the energy transition away from conventional fuels, from coal to gas and then to hybrid systems with renewables and cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen. The aim of this paper is to set a basis to pinpoint the subject of “Supply chains Decarbonization” within the Power energy sector as one of the tough challenges yet to come. The main objective of this article research is to provide a critical review of the commitments for decarbonization of supply-chains with focus on the power energy sector, based on international business experts and research articles. The methodologies used for this research is based on very recent research papers and studies review of major consulting groups, publishers, and energy sustainability councils. Pros and cons hypotheses are being organized as Highlights/ Lowlights over long or short run, in the conjecture of various consulting experts. The findings reveal that consulting groups express concerns and attention for the risks, some of the risks could be significant, results are less to be noted in the short run, but the results and the achievements are to be considered in the longer period. Google trend shows that the syntagms of “decarbonization” and “energy transition” are well known and searched.
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Chromium (Cr) is a critical metal due to its non-substitutable application in the metallurgy industry and highly uneven distribution of global reserve. However, there is a lack of in-depth analysis of global Cr flow patterns and its trade networks among individual cycles, which leaves the potential barriers and opportunities unexplored for improving chromium resource efficiency. Here, we employ a trade-linked multilevel material flow analysis (MFA) to map the global anthropogenic Cr cycle for year 2019. Social network analysis is also used to identify the key countries involved in the global Cr trade network. The results highlight that the global Cr cycle depends substantially on international trade in different forms, of which stainless steel is the leading application. Although South Africa, Kazakhstan, and Turkey are the major Cr primary resource suppliers, China and India play substantial roles in manufacturing Cr-containing products. Regional disparities exist in the scrap contents of individual country cycles, varying from 7% (uncertainty ranges from 4 to 11%) in China to 88% (uncertainty ranges from 87 to 89%) in India. Additionally, several countries are essential in the global Cr redistribution and in the connectivity of the Cr trade network, which may lead to their strong import dependence and even supply disruption.
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We analyse how the global material stocks and flows related to the electricity sector may develop towards 2050. We focus on three electricity sub-systems, being generation, transmission and storage and present a model covering both bulk and critical materials such as steel, aluminium and neodymium. Results are based on the second Shared Socio-Economic Pathway scenario, with additional climate policy assumptions based on the IMAGE integrated assessment framework, in combination with dynamic stock modelling and an elaborate review of material intensities. Results show a rapid growth in the demand for most materials in the electricity sector, as a consequence of increased electricity demand and a shift towards renewable electricity technologies, which have higher material intensities and drive the expansion of transmission infrastructure and electricity storage capacity. Under climate policy assumptions, the annual demand for most materials is expected to grow further towards 2050. For neodymium, the annual demand grows by a factor 4.4. Global demand for steel and aluminium in the electricity sector grows by a factor 2 in the baseline or 2.6 in the 2-degree climate policy scenario. We show that the combination of rapid growth of capital stocks and long lifetimes of technologies leads to a mismatch between annual demand and the availability of secondary materials within the electricity sector. This may limit the sector to accomplish circular material flows, especially under climate policy assumptions. We also highlight the potential for electric vehicles to curb some of the material demand related to electricity storage through adoption of vehicle-to-grid services.
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Automobile companies have attempted to achieve a transition of vehicle types from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) to new-generation vehicles (NGVs). Many studies have addressed the resource-related issues of vehicles. Despite the significant attention to the potential impacts of resource use in the LCIA narrative, the volume of natural resource exploitation has yet to be fully investigated. In this study, the concept of total material requirement (TMR), which is an indicator for assessing the scale of land disturbance caused by mining activities, was employed to evaluate the natural resource use for gasoline vehicles (GVs), electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Using this approach, the lifecycle TMR of automobiles at the production, operation and maintenance stages was assessed. It was found that NGV production uses more than twice the resources required for GV production. In particular, the production of the traction Li-ion battery accounts for approximately half of the total resource exploitation in the case of EV production due to the use of Cu, and nearly 40% of resource exploitation in the case of FCV production is attributed to the production of fuel cells due to the use of Pt. The inverse trend between lifecycle TMR and CO2, which was observed for each type of vehicle, implies that recent transportation policies, with their focus on environmental implications of emissions, have overlooked the hidden factors associated with resource exploitation.
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A transition in vehicle types has caused an increase in demand for traction batteries such as lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Studies assessing the impacts of mineral resources for traction LIB production in the life cycle assessment have been increasingly growing, but without sufficiently considering the volume of natural resource exploitation in the lithosphere. To evaluate the volume of natural resource use for traction LIB production, this study focuses on the land disturbances caused by mining activities of primary resources, which matches the concept of total material requirement (TMR). TMR involves direct and indirect resource inputs as well as the accompanying unused resource extraction or hidden flows related to mine waste, which is considered as the most comprehensive resource-related indicator. A sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation were conducted to evaluate the impact of uncertain contextual factors. It was found that natural resources that are approximately 189 times heavier than their original weights are exploited for traction LIB production, and Cu covers the greatest share based on TMR. Through the comparison between TMR and global warming potential, it was implied that the magnitude of resource use would be more significant than that of the environmental burden with regards to traction LIB in automobile production. The importance of TMR management was discussed by considering the risk of disastrous tailings dam collapses.
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Environmental, social and governance pressures should feature in future scenario planning about the transition to a low carbon future. As low-carbon energy technologies advance, markets are driving demand for energy transition metals. Increased extraction rates will augment the stress placed on people and the environment in extractive locations. To quantify this stress, we develop a set of global composite environmental, social and governance indicators, and examine mining projects across 20 metal commodities to identify the co-occurrence of environmental, social and governance risk factors. Our findings show that 84% of platinum resources and 70% of cobalt resources are located in high-risk contexts. Reflecting heightened demand, major metals like iron and copper are set to disturb more land. Jurisdictions extracting energy transition metals in low-risk contexts are positioned to develop and maintain safeguards against mining-related social and environmental risk factors.
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Renewable energy production is necessary to halt climate change and reverse associated biodiversity losses. However, generating the required technologies and infrastructure will drive an increase in the production of many metals, creating new mining threats for biodiversity. Here, we map mining areas and assess their spatial coincidence with biodiversity conservation sites and priorities. Mining potentially influences 50 million km2 of Earth’s land surface, with 8% coinciding with Protected Areas, 7% with Key Biodiversity Areas, and 16% with Remaining Wilderness. Most mining areas (82%) target materials needed for renewable energy production, and areas that overlap with Protected Areas and Remaining Wilderness contain a greater density of mines (our indicator of threat severity) compared to the overlapping mining areas that target other materials. Mining threats to biodiversity will increase as more mines target materials for renewable energy production and, without strategic planning, these new threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation. Renewable energy production is necessary to mitigate climate change, however, generating the required technologies and infrastructure will demand huge production increases of many metals. Here, the authors map mining areas and assess spatial coincidence with biodiversity conservation sites, and show that new mining threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation.
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Sustainable metal supply requires well-coordinated strategy and policy packages based on a sound scientific understanding of anticipated long-term demand, supply, and associated environmental implications. Such information , however, is highly fragmented among various case studies. Accordingly, this extensive review explores the projected long-term status of six major metals-iron, aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, and nickel-with around 200 data points for global demand through 2030, 2050 and 2100. Our findings showed that global demand for these major metals is likely to increase continuously over the 21st century, increasing approximately 2-6-fold depending on the metal. Although the extraction and processing required to meet this increase in demand must be environmentally sustainable, the existing extraction and processing scenarios have few explicit linkages to the Earth's carrying capacity. We further found that strategy choices are heavily biased towards end-of-life phase analyses, specifically that of end-of-life recycling. Consequently, a full range of opportunities across entire life cycles is being overlooked, including advances in product design, manufacturing and in-use phases. Importantly, despite the emergence of numerous scenarios, few provide science-based targets for major metal flows, stock, circularity, and efficiency. These knowledge gaps need to be addressed urgently in order to ensure that future research directly supports science-based decision and policy making.
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Critical metals are technologically vital to the functionality of various emerging technologies, yet they have a potentially unstable supply. This condition calls for strategic planning based on the expected long-term demand and supply of these metals and the implications attached. Here, we provide the first systematic review of studies (88 studies in all) exploring the projected long-term status of various critical materials, covering 48 elements with 546 data points for global demand through 2030 and 2050. Interestingly, results indicate that, to date, no long-term demand outlook is available for some high criticality metals. We also find that the social and environmental implications induced by demand growth are largely overlooked in these studies, resulting in less attention being given to the spatial divergence between consuming and producing countries in the global supply chain. Moreover, circular economy strategies that include component reuse and remanufacturing have been barely incorporated into the modelling frameworks presented in these studies, while end-of-life recycling is heavily focused on. In addition, elemental linkages (e.g., indium-zinc-steel) are underemphasized, leading to a lack of understanding of future availability and sustainable cycles. All of these findings affirm the need for further scientific research that explores the long-term status of critical metals, which strongly connects to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations and implementation of the Paris Agreement.
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Mines are composed of features like open cut pits, water storage ponds, milling infrastructure, waste rock dumps, and tailings storage facilities that are often associated with impacts to surrounding areas. The size and location of mine features can be determined from satellite imagery, but to date a systematic analysis of these features across commodities and countries has not been conducted. We created detailed maps of 295 mines producing copper, gold, silver, platinum group elements, molybdenum, lead-zinc, nickel, uranium or diamonds, representing the dominant share of global production of these commodities. The mapping entailed the delineation and classification of 3,736 open pits, waste rock dumps, water ponds, tailings storage facilities, heap leach pads, milling infrastructure and other features, totalling ~3,633 km 2. Collectively, our maps highlight that mine areas can be highly heterogeneous in composition and diverse in form, reflecting variations in underlying geology, commodities produced, topography and mining methods. Our study therefore emphasises that distinguishing between specific mine features in satellite imagery may foster more refined assessments of mine-related impacts. We also compiled detailed annual data on the operational characteristics of 129 mines to show via regression analysis that the sum area of a mine's features is mainly explained by its cumulative production volume (cross-validated R 2 of 0.73). This suggests that the extent of future mine areas can be estimated with reasonable certainty based on expected total production volume. Our research may inform environmental impact assessments of new mining proposals, or provide land use data for life cycle analyses of mined products.