Transitioning towards a clean energy future is a mainstay of the global efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. The energy transition implies a shift from a fuel-intensive system to a material-intensive energy system, and will create significant demand for critical raw materials (CRMs), including critical minerals, because the technologies underpinning low-carbon energy systems, such as wind, solar PV and batteries, are more minerals-intensive than fossil fuel-based technologies.
This report examines the implications of the energy transition on SDGs for countries that currently or could potentially extract and export critical minerals. After the Introduction, Chapter 2 presents the potential implications of the energy transition on critical mineral development. Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy sources by extension increases dependence on mineral resources. As the transition towards a clean energy future deepens, a fundamental change in the demand for extractive products, away from fossil fuel and towards mineral resources, will take place. Chapter 3 discusses the opportunities and challenges that the sustainable development of CRMs will face during the energy transition. Chapter 4 examines the energy transition and critical mineral development in Asia-Pacific countries. Chapter 5 summarizes CRM development in selected Asia-Pacific countries, followed by a summary of the global best practice that can contribute to achieving sustainable CRM development. The remaining gaps that need to be filled for the purpose of promoting sustainable critical mineral development are summarized in Chapter 7, which also lays the foundation for policy recommendations in chapter 8.