A Just Transition is a Post-Extractive OnePublished by MAC on 2019-09-24
Source: London Mining Network, War on Want
A Just(ice)Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition
Benjamin Hithcock Auciello
London Mining Network and War on Want
16 September 2019
Large-scale mining is the deadliest industry in the world for those who
oppose it. It is a contributor to systematic human rights violations,
devastating losses of climate critical ecosystems and over 20 percent of
global carbon emissions.
And yet, at a time of ecological and climate breakdown, the mineral and
metal mining industry is in rude health. Mining companies are taking
advantage of new demand created by the energy transition and the
digitalisation of war and industry. They're scouring the globe for new
sources of ‘critical minerals’, like lithium, copper and cobalt, and
expanding into new territories, including the deep sea.
This is disaster capitalism at its finest, say the authors of a new
report that was launched just ahead of the Global Climate Strike. And it
is jeopardising urgent climate action.
A Just(ice) Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition reveals how the
mining industry is greenwashing its operations, positioning itself as a
deliverer of the minerals and metals critical to the renewable energy
transition, whilst expanding destruction globally.
Benjamin Hitchcock Auciello, researcher and report author, said: “Mining
corporations are aggressively and cynically marketing their destructive
activity as a solution to the climate emergency.
"It’s critical that we stop extractive industries from greenwashing
their crimes and capturing the narrative around the transition to
Launched by the London Mining Network and War on Want, and supported by
the global Yes to Life, No to Mining Network, the report de-bunks the
mining industry’s false claims.
It reveals that the majority of projected future demand for ‘critical’
minerals and metals does not come from the renewable energy sector at
all, but rather from heavy industry, consumer electronics and military
and other sources.
The report delves deeper still to reveal how governments, International
Financial Institutions and even progressive movements are clinging to
economic growth and material expansion as primary societal and
developmental goals. This is creating the space for extractive
industries to reinvent themselves as friendly change agents.
Technical fixes and the ‘de-coupling’ of climate and ecological impacts
from economic growth will not be sufficient to avoid catastrophic
warming above 1.5 degrees centigrade, says the report.
To curb climate breakdown and achieve a just and ecologically viable
transition, the Global North must embrace de-growth and help
redistribute global demand for energy and resources, not expand their
In other words, a just transition must be post-extractive. The first
steps for achieving this shift in transition logic is to listen to
communities on the frontline of extractivism and centre their voices in
Hitchcock Auciello continued: “The climate movement must listen to and
learn from frontline communities pushing back the expansion of the
extractive economy: communities who are simultaneously advancing
solutions that embody social, ecological and climate justice.”
A series of interactive case studies from the Yes to Life, No to Mining
Network have been launched in tandem with the new report. They explore
the work of communities resisting mining, restoring damaged ecosystems
and protecting and developing climate-just alternatives to extractivism
around the planet.
The case studies reveal the violence of extractivism for community
leaders harassed, beaten and killed, for ecosystems torn apart, and for
the climate. They hint at the immense costs and injustices that are
inherent in expanding mining for whatever purpose, and the mass
resistance that can be expected.
The case studies also reveal how communities are stopping mining
projects, protecting old and innovating new ways of living that are
regenerative, life-sustaining and compatible with a climate-safe future.
In Myanmar, the indigenous Karen People have declared the Salween Peace
Park as a space to practice their Earth-centred culture and as a
strategy to block the intertwined threats of mega-hydro and mining.
In Galicia, the villagers of Froxán are re-planting forests and
asserting their commons-based forms of land and water care in response
to the threat of tungsten mining.
In Colombia the community of Cajamarca stopped a gold mine through
popular democracy, triggering a national movement and new initiatives to
strengthen their regenerative local economy.
In Finland the people of Selkie closed down a peat mine after pollution
events poisoned the Jukajoki River and have re-wilded their water
systems using a blend of traditional knowledge and science.
In Papua New Guinea, the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and their allies
are fighting and winning their battle against the world’s flagship deep
sea mining project in the sacred waters of the Bismarck Sea.
“We are exploring and innovating towards a future where all the worlds
(human and non-human) can co-exist and thrive in mutual dignity and
respect, without a single so called ‘developed’ world living at the
expense of others”, write the authors of Pluriverse: A post-development
The struggles and ‘alternatives’ shared in YLNM’s case studies are
living examples of this future emerging now.
The climate emergency is our clear and present reality, but we will not
solve our problems with the same universalised, de-politicised,
corporate-dominated approaches that caused them.
Communities, not extractive corporations or captured states, have the
answers to the climate and ecological crises. They are living these
solutions every day and it is time to listen to them.
The YLNM emblematic case studies were developed directly by member communities and organisations with the support of YLNM’s Regional Coordinators. The network’s deepest thanks go to: Snowchange Cooperative and the village of Selkie (Finland), Froxán Commoning Community and ContraMINAccíon (Galicia), Karen Environmental and Social Action Network and Kalikasan PNE (Myanmar and Philippines), Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and COSAJUCA (Colombia), Alliance of Solwara Warriors (Papua New Guinea).
Read all the case studies here -
Read A Just(ice) Transition is a Post-Extractive Transition here -
Hannibal Rhoades is head of communications at The Gaia Foundation, a UK-based organisation working internationally to support indigenous and local communities to revive their knowledge, livelihoods and healthy ecosystems.