Report | 28 January 2021
Europe wants to be the first continent to become climate neutral by 2050 and the leader in ensuring that all of the world’s ecosystems are restored, resilient and adequately protected by 2050. The European Union has declared its ambition to halt, and as much as possible reverse, the pressure humans put on the planet’s resources, ecosystems, climate and biodiversity. However, as the green agenda to reach these ambitions becomes more defined, it reveals that despite the long-term goal of reducing the demand for resources and fossil fuel consumption, Europe plans to continue its exploitative model of mining raw materials in the EU and around the world.
This report summarises the proposed frameworks connected with the European Green Deal and exposes the problems related to environmental, social and human rights standards in the supply chains crucial for this new EU growth strategy. The European Commission’s agenda is sound, but to be effective it has to counterbalance the procurement of raw materials indispensable for the green and digital revolution with safeguards for the people affected by raw materials mining and the nature destroyed by the overwhelming pressure for cheap and fast exploitation. Therefore, the Commission must be even more ambitious and incorporate policies that ensure the use of less-exploitative and toxic-safe technologies; the restoration of the old mining sites; strict environmental, social and human rights due diligence for mining projects; and finally the right for the communities affected by the mines and surrounding facilities to have a say. The EU cannot attempt to overcome the climate crisis at the expense of local communities, workers’ rights and biodiversity, especially in the face of the COVID-19-induced economic and social crisis. It would be a raw deal, one experienced too often in the past, which should finally be left far behind.