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Responsible Mining and Energy

Demand for natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas continues to grow — but at what cost to the planet that sustains us?

© CI/photo by Bailey Evans

 

Our global economy relies upon natural resources extracted from the Earth, but removing them can cause erosion, pollution, deforestation and species loss, not to mention the climate impact of burning fossil fuels once they’re out of the ground. As development continues to encroach on natural areas, smart businesses are seeking ways to reduce their impacts — while also transitioning to a low-carbon energy future.

 

Why are mining and energy important?

Resources to build

Aluminum. Iron. Gold. Lead. If it can’t be grown or made, it was probably mined. These materials are used in almost everything — from buildings and cars to cell phones and laptops — yet most of the world’s store of metals and minerals remains undiscovered.

Energy demand is growing

As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for sources of energy continues to rise. Global energy consumption is expected to increase 28% from 2015 to 2040, and approximately 60% of the increase will come from developing nations.

Jobs and prosperity

The mining, oil and gas industries are leading engines of job creation and economic growth — particularly in developing countries — as well as a large source of revenue for many governments.

 

What are the issues?

> 72% of global greenhouse emissions

Climate change

The drilling, refining and burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases. And we burn fuel in order to power our vehicles and heat our buildings. All told, more than 72% of total global greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector.

2.4 million hectares degraded

Habitat destruction

Mining activities, especially those using open-pit mining techniques, and oil and gas development projects often require clearing or fragmentation of large areas of land, with significant loss of plant and animal habitat as result. In the U.S., coal mining degraded an estimated 2.4 million hectares (5.9 million acres) between 1930 and 2000, most of which was once forest.

1,000 tons of mercury released

Pollution

Mercury is one of the most harmful pollutants to both people and wildlife. Toxic levels of mercury are released from coal-burning power plants and from mercury amalgamation, a practice used in illegal and small-scale gold mining that results in about one unit of mercury emitted into the environment for every unit of gold produced. This practice leads to almost 1,400 tons of mercury released into the environment each year.

 

Our plan

Alto Mayo Protected Forest
© Thomas Muller

Investing in natural climate solutions

In addition to supporting a responsible low-carbon energy transition, our work with the energy sector aims to increase investments in natural climate solutions, which can provide 30 percent or more of the emissions reductions needed to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement.   

Tasmanian old rainforest and stream
© Keiichi Hiki

Championing responsible business practices

We engage companies, decision-makers, industry groups and other stakeholders in the energy and mining sectors to support responsible business practices for avoiding and mitigating negative impacts and delivering positive impacts for healthy ecosystems and societies.

Mine surrounded by forest
© CI/photo by John Martin

Developing tools to improve practices

Conservation International works to develop science-based tools that strengthen environmental management practices and related decision-making.

 

 

Reduce your energy consumption

Switch to a more fuel-efficient car, take public transit if you can or ride a bike.

© Robin Moore

Shop smart

Consider using recycled materials in your home, and push for their use in your workplace. You can also stay in LEED-certified hotels when you...

© Laszlo Novak/Wild Wonders of Europe

What's your carbon footprint?

Calculate your footprint now. Offsetting the carbon emissions from your lifestyle is a critical step toward fighting climate change.

© Pete Oxford/iLCP