Unearthing critical minerals: Can Australia mine its way out of the climate crisis?

A panel of experts and climate activists discuss Australia’s race to mine critical minerals for renewable technology and the consequences of an unregulated approach.

The transition to renewables such as solar, wind and lithium-ion batteries is vital to decarbonise our energy use, systems, and transport. Renewable energy technology relies on an intensification of mining of ‘critical minerals’ for their production such as rare earths, lithium, and copper. This panel explores the implications of accelerating mining for critical minerals for Australia as we seek to meet our international and national climate targets.

Jubilee Australia’s Greenlight or Gaslight report unpacks concerns about how we transition to a more sustainable world.

This event was held in partnership with Jubilee Australia Research Centre on 15 June 2023.

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Luke Fletcher, report author and advocacy leader

Luke Fletcher is the Executive Director of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre since 2016, which conducts research on advocacy across a broad range of issues including mining, forest protection, fossil fuels, aid and development policy, and corporate accountability. He has the been author/co-author of many of Jubilee Australia’s reports, including Greenlight or Gaslight. Luke completed a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and has published academic articles on US diplomatic history, Australia’s aid policy and the Rwandan genocide. He is a Visiting Fellow at the UNSW School of Social Sciences.

Kavita Naidu, climate activist and human rights lawyer

Kavita Naidu is a feminist climate activist and international human rights lawyer from Fiji-Australia specialising in climate justice for grassroots women in all their diversity in Asia and the Pacific. Kavita is currently the Senior Strategist, Pacific for the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA). With over 16 years of diverse experience working in the Pacific, Asia and the UK, Kavita has worked at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, government bodies and the private sector. Kavita was involved with the UN Free & Equal campaign in the Pacific, the Global Women’s Strike and the feminist bloc for the climate marches in COP25 & COP26. Kavita served as a Board member with Greenpeace Australia Pacific and is currently a board member with AkitvAsia and Progressive International.

Susan Park, global governance expert

Susan Park is Professor of Global Governance in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney and a research lead on Transitioning Systems at the Sydney Environment Institute. She focuses on how international organisations and global governance can become greener and more accountable, particularly in the transition to renewable energy. Her most recent books are: The Good Hegemon (2022, OUP) and Environmental Recourse at the Multilateral Development Banks (2020, CUP). She is co-lead Editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics.

Lian Sinclair (Chair), critical minerals expert

Lian Sinclair is Postdoctoral Research Associate in Geography at the University of Sydney and member of the Sydney Environment Institute. Her current research focuses on how Australian critical minerals industry is plugging into global production networks in batteries, electric vehicles and renewable energy, and the resulting contestations around land, labour and environment. Lian’s first book Undermining resistance: Extractive accumulation, participation and governance in global capitalism is contracted for publication by Manchester University Press.


Header image: A RioTinto mine for gold, copper, silver in Huelva, Spain. By Luis Becerra via Shutterstock ID: 1450763351

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