400+ participants / 50+ speakers / 15+ panels


Day 2

17:00 – 18:00

“Sacrifice Zones”: The Blind Spots of the Green Energy Transition

The world needs to decouple growth from greenhouse gas emissions to assure a sustainable future on our Planet.

Decarbonisation is the key to delivering the energy transition, but it requires a massive increase in the mining and extraction of minerals like lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel and others.

We need solar panels and windmills to harness renewable energy like the sun and the wind and, to build those, we need to mine large quantities of materials such as these. Yet, these minerals and rare earth are non-renewable, and their extraction usually comes with a high environmental cost for local ecosystems and communities where they are mined.

The battle is, however, not just local. Extracting these minerals severely impacts planetary security and the geopolitical power struggle. History teaches us that whenever a dominant energy source in the world changed, power relations also changed. It happened with coal and the United Kingdom and a century later with oil which determined the rise of the US to the status of a global superpower. We have reached a watershed once again. China dominates processing for most crucial minerals, whereas for rare earths it dominates extraction and processing. The EU is, for example, 98% dependent on China for rare earth. The countries that control these resources will be able to shape geopolitical power dynamics to their own advantage. By bringing local environmental activists together with the representatives of the industry and global thinkers on the topic, this panel will discuss the interplay between local environmental concerns and the extraction of rare minerals and the geopolitical competition between China and the West.

Olivia Lazard
Ann Maest
Marta Szpala
Marton Dunai




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