Decarbonisation on a Finite Planet: A Preliminary Assessment of Environmental and Social Impacts

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Margareth Sembiring
Research Themes:
Environmental security and climate change
Type: NTS Insight
2 November 2020



Decarbonisation through the deployment of low-carbon technologies has become a central component in climate mitigation strategy. The production of these technologies, however, requires many more minerals compared to their conventional counterparts. Moreover, the technologies needed to recycle them at the end of their product lifetime are not yet fully developed. These potentially intensify various environmental and social pressures on the Earth that has already been overstretched for half a century in meeting the world’s consumption demand. Managing resource extraction through sustainable and ethical mining and accelerating technological innovations for recycling are important, but alternative pathways aimed at bringing down consumption levels, possibly through a transformation in the economic system, are likely to be necessary to restore a balance with nature and avert climate and ecological crises.