The energy transition has been placed at the top of the European political agenda, with the digital transition closely following suit. But to successfully implement these two priorities, the EU needs to examine and adjust its supply and use of metals. A renewable energy supply requires far more metals than a fossil one.
The digital transition also relies on a wide array of metals. Much of Europe's metals come from outside its space, at the cost of environmental dumping and human rights violations. In many cases, women are the hardest hit by the spread of pollution from mining.
Should we press mining companies to clean up their act and negotiate a fair trade in metals, or is time to nearshore the extraction of metal ores? Is it even possible for Europe or the UK to become self-sufficient in metals, by reviving metal mining within their borders and/or by drastically improving recycling from the urban mine?
One thing is clear: the dilemmas around metals make it all the more urgent to rethink our consumption patterns, from mobility to data use. This event explores these issues of pollution through mining and dumping, the human rights aspect of mining and other urgent issues faced by the EU today.