NGO letter to the World Bank re Mining & Renewables

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Updated May 1st with IndustriALL signon

April 30, 2019

Kristalina Georgieva
Chief Executive Officer
The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC
20433 USA

Dear Dr. Georgieva,

The undersigned organizations support a just and rapid transition away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy economy. We recognize this essential shift is necessary in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees and avert the most disastrous impacts of climate change. And yet, even as new renewable energy infrastructure ramps up, we are concerned about the impacts of extracting minerals like copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt on communities, workers and ecosystems.

Metals mining is one of the world’s dirtiest industries, responsible for at least 10% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Mining is linked to severe human rights abuses, violent conflict and unsafe working conditions in some parts of the world. Most of the world’s cobalt, used in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, too often by children working in dangerous conditions. Mining for copper, silver and nickel threatens indigenous community rights and livelihoods in regions as diverse as Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Sámi lands in Norway, in Papua New Guinea, and in many other areas around the world. Mine waste dams have collapsed in Brazil, killing hundreds of workers and local residents, and in Mexico and Canada, causing severe downstream pollution. Looming on the horizon is the threat of deep seabed mining for cobalt and manganese–with unknown, potentially disastrous consequences for marine species and deep-sea ecosystems.

Research from the University of Technology, Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS), “Responsible Minerals Sourcing for Renewable Energy,” shows that as demand for these scarce minerals skyrockets, the associated environmental and human impacts are likely to rise steeply as well. We have a timely opportunity to scale up our dependence on clean, renewable energy sources, while scaling back our dependence on dirty mining. Doing so will require a concerted commitment from businesses, financial institutions, and governments to:

  1. Boost Recycling and Minimize Toxicity: Manufacturers of electric vehicles, renewable energy (RE) and battery technologies must dramatically scale up their use of recycled minerals. Policymakers must create incentives for minerals recycling and requirements for companies to take back their products at the end of their useful lives. R&D innovators must design batteries and RE technologies for disassembly and efficient recycling of all the minerals they contain. Materials used in manufacturing should avoid toxicity. Health, safety, and protection for workers and communities must be the top priority at recycling operations.
  2. Ensure Responsible Minerals Sourcing: Utilities, purchasers and manufacturers of RE technologies, batteries, and electric vehicles must trace the minerals in their products back to the source. Where sourcing from mining operations is absolutely necessary, purchasers must insist that those operations adhere to stringent international environmental and human rights best-practices standards (such as those developed by the multi-stakeholder Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance) with independent, third-party assurance of compliance.
  3. Shift Consumption and Transportation: The climate crisis offers an opportunity to rethink how societies (particularly wealthy ones) consume energy and products, and transport goods and people. It will take more than technological fixes to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and ensure equity in access to the benefits of clean energy. Policy makers should prioritize investments in electric-powered public transit, support bike and pedestrian-friendly policies, and expand access to public transit to those who are not currently gaining the benefits of today’s fossil-fuel car-centric transportation system.

We share the World Bank’s concern that “significant challenges will likely emerge if the climate-driven clean energy transition is not managed responsibly and sustainably.” Yet we are also concerned that the World Bank’s new “Climate-Smart Mining” Facility is seeking to promote new mining before promoting these other important solutions that must precede it. We urge the World Bank Group to prioritize recycling, efficiency, circular economy, public transit, and other non-mining solutions as the primary components of its “Climate-Smart” agenda. In addition, current IFC performance standards — and minimal oversight of their implementation — do not, unfortunately, provide meaningful guarantees that new mining promoted by the World Bank’s Climate-Smart Mining Facility will meet credible safeguards to ensure protection of air, water, climate, human rights, livelihoods, worker safety and community health. Without these safeguards in place, mining promoted as “Climate-Smart” risks exacerbating the very issues it seeks to fix.

We are alarmed to note that the World Bank has closely partnered with mining companies in developing and launching its new Climate-Smart Mining Facility, putting mining company agendas and interests before protections to safeguard and benefit workers, communities and the environment. As a public financial institution, the World Bank has the responsibility to provide oversight to mining operations and impetus for improvements in mining practices.

We urge you to ensure that the World Bank helps to build climate change solutions that puts communities, workers and the environment first.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Krill
Executive Director
Earthworks
United States

Ugo Lapointe
Canada Program Coordinator
MiningWatch Canada
Canada

Glen Mpufane
Director – Mining, Gems, Ornaments and Jewelry Production
IndustriALL Global Union
Switzerland/Global

Natalie Lowrey
Coordinator
AID/WATCH Inc.
Australia

Astrid Puentes and Anna Cederstav
Co-Executive Directors ‘
AIDA (Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense)
Latin America

Jaybee Garganera
National Coordinator
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Philippines

Alex Goff
Development Manager
Amazon Frontlines
United States

Paul Paz y Mino
Associate Director
Amazon Watch
United States

Paul Ménard
Vice-président
APLT (Association Pour la Protection du Lac Taureau)
Canada

Roger Featherstone
Director
Arizona Mining Reform Coalition
United States

Ismael López Pérez
Asociación Ambiental e Cultural Petón do Lobo
Spain

Carmen Varela
Asociación Galega Cova Crea
Spain

Elana Berger
Executive Director
Bank Information Center
United States

Matthew Mehalik
Executive Director
Breathe Project
United States

Eniko Horvath
Senior Researcher
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Switzerland

Charlotte Christiaens
General Coordinator
CATAPA
Belgium

Carla García Zendejas
Director, People, Land and Resources Program
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
International

Candyce Lynn Paul
Outreach Coordinator
Committee for Future Generations
Canada

Isabelle Ménard
Conseillère Environnement
Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux
Canada

Dieudonné Tshimpidimbua
Conseil Régional des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Développement
Democratic Republic of Congo

Matthew Gianni and Sian Owen
Cofounder and Coordinator
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Netherlands

Helen Rosenbaum
Coordinator
Deep Sea Mining Campaign
Australia

Richard Kamp
Director
E-Tech International
United States

Pía Marchegiani
Environmental Policy Director
FARN
Argentina

Brook Lenker
Executive Director
FracTracker Alliance
United States

Lea Harper
Managing Director
FreshWater Accountability Project
United States

Douglas Norlen
Director, Economic Policy Program
Friends of the Earth U.S.
USA

Hannibal Rhoades
Communications and Advocacy Coordinator
The Gaia Foundation
United Kingdom

Allyson Siwik
Executive Director
Gila Resources Information Project
United States

Sophia Pickles
Team Leader, Conflict Resources
Global Witness
United Kingdom

Alejandro Gonzalez
International Coordinator
GoodElectronics Network
International

Daniel Mittler
Political Director
Greenpeace
International

Manuel Pérez-Rocha
Associate Fellow
Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Project
United States

Ted Smith
Coordinator
International Campaign for Responsible Technology
United States

Dina Rui
Research and Communications Officer
Jubilee Australia
Australia

Gina Morris
Spokesperson
Kamloops Moms For Clean Air
Canada

Christina Moreau
Chair
Kipawa Lake Preservation Society
Canada

Joe Uehlein
President
Labor Network for Sustainability
United States

Richard Solly
Co-ordinator
London Mining Network
United Kingdom

Lance Morgan
President
Marine Conservation Institute
United States

Chloe Noel
Faith Economy Ecology Program Manager
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
United States

Laura Cassiani
Executive Director
Mission Blue / Sylvia Earle Alliance
United States

Susan Gordon
Coordinator
Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment
United States

Silje Lundberg
President
Naturvernforbundet – Friends of the Earth Norway
Norway

Carolyn Shafer
Board Member
Patagonia Area Resource Alliance
United States

Laura Martin
Executive Director
Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
United States

Anneke Van Woudenberg
Executive Director
RAID (Rights and Accountability in Development)
United Kingdom

Patrick McCully
Climate & Energy Program Director
Rainforest Action Network
United States

Jill Weitz
Director
Salmon Beyond Borders
United States

Guadalupe Rodríguez
Campaigner Latin America
Salva la Selva
Spain

Monica Verbeek
Executive Director
Seas At Risk
Belgium/Portugal

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club
United States

Joell Molina
Americas Director
Solidarity Center
United States

Rhodante Ahlers
Senior researcher
SOMO
Netherlands

Tis Peterman
Coordinator
Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission
United States

Angus Wong
Campaign Manager
SumOfUs
Canada

Rebekah Hayden
Coordinator
The Rainforest Action Group
Australia

Horst Schmidt
President
Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
United States

Keith Monroe
Member
Williams Lake Chapter- Council of Canadians
Canada

Cecilia Tuico
International Relations Officer
Workers Assistance Center, Inc.
Philippines