Resource consumption has grown exponentially over the past: between 1970 and 2010, the quantity of extracted materials has tripled. Not only the overall amount of resources extracted and consumed has risen rapidly, but also the diversity of resources has grown. While half a century ago, only a few materials such as wood, brick, iron, copper, and plastics were in high demand worldwide, today products are more complex and require a wide range of materials.
Finding domestic alternatives for rare earths has become a matter of national security, according to a recently released Pentagon report. The United States’ defense, economy, and infrastructure depend on the electronics that rely on these mineral elements. Trade tensions between the United States and China over rare earths illustrate an important dynamic surrounding little-seen building blocks of our daily life.
The pro-coal position of Poland’s energy ministry has thrown sand into the country’s climate diplomacy as COP24 president-designate Michał Kurtyka intensifies his diplomatic tour ahead of the United Nation’s annual climate meeting later this year in Katowice.
China’s vision of a global energy system overemphasises the benefits of connectivity. Planners and investors also have to consider the potential impacts on biodiversity and local community livelihoods from different power generation methods and find ways to prevent them.
A new report analyses how the transition to a low-carbon economy – and the minerals and metals required to make that shift – could affect fragility, conflict, and violence dynamics in mineral-rich states.
On a visit at short notice to Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss a range of bilateral and international issues, including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, and the future of the controversial gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. The pair met for the second time within just three months to talk about the project.
Australia’s new prime minister will not walk away from the Paris climate agreement, although his new policies now make it unlikely the country will meet its emissions reduction goal. Ongoing trade talks with the EU could also hinge on how climate policy continues to develop.
Mine closures have caused social and political turmoil in many regions, for example in South Africa. But there are ways of planning and managing the phase-out so that when the inevitable happens, people are better prepared. A new study looks at opportunities beyond mining and finds that infrastructure that supports mining can also be put to new use.
After an 18-month stretch without a White House science adviser – the longest any modern president has gone without a science adviser – Trump appoints extreme weather expert Kelvin Droegemeier to the post. Kelvin Droegemeier is vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma and a climate change scientist. His selection was widely welcomed.
In many parts of South and Southeast Asia, high population density and vulnerability to climate change combine with low levels of household resilience and poor governance to increase security concerns and the potential for political instability.
As the world's biggest polluter, what China decides to do with its energy policy matters to the whole planet. And while progress on the domestic front has rightly won Beijing praise from climate scientists, China is the world's largest funder of coal plants overseas. Is the country employing double standards?
The UK has been accused of trying to “fudge” how much money it spends on subsidising coal mining and fossil fuel use despite its pledge to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020.
Environmental peacebuilding strives to reduce conflict risks associated with natural resources and to enable societies to profit fully from their natural resource wealth. In order to be successful, it must follow a context-sensitive approach. Nina Engwicht shows that, in Sierra Leone, the environmental risk factors for conflict have only been addressed at the surface.
The Lake Chad Basin is afflicted with a multidimensional crisis, which contributing factors range from deeply-entrenched regional hostilities to environmental degradation. The vulnerability of livelihood systems to changing climate patterns adds to the security pressures by exposing local populations to intimidation and recruitment by radical groups. Anja Stache, Programme Coordinator at GIZ, explains how the German development agency helps strengthen resilience by introducing climate-smart seeds.
EU and island leaders are calling for more ambition at the International Maritime Organization, while major emerging economies resist a tough cap on emissions. Negotiations over a long-term climate strategy for the global shipping industry are growing fractious as countries battle over the level of ambition.