To combat a record-breaking year, government and Industry must work together to reduce greenhouse gasses

The world “celebrated” a worrying achievement in January–its warmest January on record, capping off the globe’s first 12-month period in which temperatures averaged more than 1.5 C pre-industrial times. 2023 was already a record year, the hottest one since 1850. The combination of human-caused climate change and El Nino pushed the temperatures higher. In the context of global CO2 emission targets, this doesn’t mean the Paris Goal is unreachable, as the UN agreement refers to an average global temperature over decades. However, it is undeniable that governments and industry must make serious efforts to hamper the continued emission of greenhouse gasses.

Amidst the alarming headlines of record-breaking temperatures, there is promising progress being made. In January, the International Energy Agency announced that in 2023 the world had added 50% more renewable capacity than in 2022. Concretely, this means that the world’s capacity to generate renewable electricity has expanded faster than ever in the last three decades–an expansion which gives the world a real chance to achieve the goal of tripling global capacity by 2030.

This renewable revolution must be accelerated still further, of course, if we hope to avoid the catastrophic tipping points that climate experts warn us are on the cards without concerted action. The next few years will be pivotal in determining whether governments and key industries are able to work together to power the green transition and keep the world on target for 2030.

Powering the green revolution to power progress

Thanks to the accelerated deployment of solar panels, wind turbines, and EVs as conscientious countries race to find acceptable alternatives to emissions-heavy fossil fuels, the demand for minerals crucial to the green energy transition is skyrocketing, with cobalt and copper two of the rare earth minerals that are particularly vital to the creation of a green economy.

 Cobalt, for instance, is a major input in the production of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, while copper is a key component of everything from solar panels to wind turbines and energy storage systems. According to McKinsey, global electrification is expected to increase annual copper demand to 36.6 million tonnes by 2031; Goldman Sachs analysts have underlined that by 2030, 17% of copper consumption is expected to be accounted for by green uses. It’s a similar story for cobalt; depending on battery chemistry evolution, cobalt demand could surge anywhere from 6 to 30 times today’s levels by 2040.

 As technologies advance, and governments continue to promote the purchase and use of green tech, from EVs to renewable energy sources, the question of sourcing these minerals becomes increasingly important. Automakers, battery manufacturers, and their suppliers are on the hunt for sustainable and responsible sources, a particular challenge as increased demand is in many cases coinciding with global supply constraints. Thus, the best partners for the green energy transition are those committed to powering the transition by offering the raw materials needed in the most sustainable manner possible.

Mining giants answering the call

In response to these forecasted increases in demand, different companies are answering the call of the sustainable mining revolution necessary to bolster the broader green transition. Long positioned as an industry leader, CMOC is the largest cobalt producer in the world and a leading copper producer in the world. CMOC’s copper and cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo covers an area of over 1,500 square kilometres, and is one of the highest-grade copper and cobalt mines globally. The mine’s significant prospects for resource exploration and development are an asset as companies and countries look for stable and long-term extractors to power the environmental transition. Furthermore, the company is also deeply committed to maintaining strong ESG performance as well as contributing to local economies. During African Mining Indaba, on February 5th, CMOC was able to present its contributions from tax revenue to local communities to the Prime Minister of the DRC.

CMOC is hardly the only mining giant who is stepping up to the plate. In South America, Anglo-American has earned a reputation for integrating an ambitious ESG plan into the core of its business practices. Their sustainable mining plan is centred around three Global Sustainability Pillars designed to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Each pillar contains three Stretch Goals that must be reached by 2030: healthy environment – maintaining a healthy environment by creating carbon-neutral operations, thriving communities – building communities with better health, education, and employment, and being a trusted corporate leader – developing trust as a corporate leader, providing ethical value chains, and improved accountability.

In Australia, BHP is also aiming to respond to the challenges of climate change. The mining and metals giant set a medium-term target to reduce their operational emissions by at least 30% from FY2020 levels by FY2023. The company is also committed to offsetting its carbon emissions by investing in REDD and REDD+ projects to support economy-wide decarbonization. BHP was quick to understand that the production of resources is not an end in and of itself, but rather a building block for further progress in terms of driving growth and development, underpinning materials for sanitation and healthcare, developing industry, building vital infrastructure, and pushing sustainability forward.

Ultimately, while coping with the climate challenges of the future can often seem daunting as new records are continuously set and severe weather events abound, it’s encouraging that some of the world’s biggest companies are already striving to set ambitious goals in the face of climate change. As we move to power our green energy transition, it is vital to not forget about our stakeholders who are producing the rare earth minerals we need to progress. CMOC, Anglo-American, and BHP are emerging as promising examples of large industrial companies doing their best to power said transition while never losing sight of the overarching goal: a safer, healthier, more environmentally sustainable world.

Greenhouse Gases