Table of Contents

Taking a more effective approach to climate security requires reconceptualizing the links between climate change, ecological disintegration, and conflict prevention/management. It calls for a coherent and comprehensive European ecological diplomacy, which focuses more intently on conflict and fragile zones and systemically shifts the EU’s geoeconomic, regulatory, trade, and multilateral power toward efforts that advance socio-ecological peace and stabilization. EU climate policy needs a stronger emphasis on ecological integrity and the regeneration of the environment.

The Limits of Climate Security

The limitations of EU policy stem from the narrow way in which the union conceptualizes climate security. The EU’s many policy initiatives undoubtedly have virtues but largely deal with the symptoms of climate insecurity rather than its root drivers. To develop a more effective approach, the EU needs to adopt a far broader notion of ecological security, and beyond, of ecological integrity. It needs to drive the revitalization of critical ecosystems that naturally regulate the global climate regime, while simultaneously underpinning fundamental natural interdependencies that ensure healthy water, food, and air security. It also needs to support the revitalization of environmental resources in arid and semi-arid zones so as to combat the growing scarcity that threatens stability and peace around the globe. Adopting an ecosystems lens necessarily entails identifying how to support and empower communities and societies for better ecological stewardship.

In recent years, the EU has begun talking about climate change as an “existential threat.”1 This language is often associated with the need to decarbonize fast in order to avoid runaway climate change. The EU is shouldering its decarbonization responsibility and is working to reduce its energy footprint. The union views this decarbonization as a global public good and a contribution to international peace and security. However, the way in which the EU currently conceptualizes this existential threat remains indirect and limited at best. In addition, the transition pathways the union is opting for even risk damage to global security and further climate breakdown due to the extraction-intensive nature of decarbonization.

Climate change results from and drives ecological crises going beyond the release of excess carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Insecurity results from the corrosion of multiple ecological interdependencies that hold the planet in balance. When these interdependencies are broken, they reduce the health of water, soil, and biodiversity systems that underpin life. Their effects go beyond local impacts. Ecological stresses reverberate across regions as healthy interdependencies weaken and biophysical regulations of the planet wane. Societies suffer from the effects of these disruptions as food and water become scarcer and biodiversity diminishes. Tackling this wider ecological challenge is essential to redefining what security means in the face of planetary boundaries whose thresholds are being dangerously crossed. To date, the EU and the rest of the international community have developed strategies that only respond to one narrow element of what is a multifaceted crisis. In doing so, the EU’s own climate transition pathways are currently set to accelerate other ecological crises; they stand to worsen insecurity rather than act as a remedy to security concerns.

Olivia Lazard
Olivia Lazard is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. Her research focuses on the geopolitics of climate, the transition ushered by climate change, and the risks of conflict and fragility associated to climate change and environmental collapse.
More >

Since 2007, when the topic of climate security was first discussed in the UN Security Council,2 policies and research have focused on adding climate elements to existing approaches to fragility and conflict. The UN debate about climate security has centered on specific conflict theaters, such as Lake Chad,3 Somalia, Iraq, and the Sahel, and how climate change will impact conflict dynamics in these settings. This debate is unduly narrow for a number of reasons.

First, it frames climate security as being geographical rather than systemic. The working assumption is that climate-driven fragility, violence, and conflict is generated outside the EU and other advanced economies; in reality, these economies are part of the systemic problem, and climate stresses percolate across the global system. Second, security planners have largely integrated climate risks into conventional risk analyses rather than developed new frameworks for security. Third, the focus has been on how climate change will impact violence, insecurity, and conflict but not the reverse—how these factors drive broader ecological disruption and climate breakdown. Fourth, security planners have generally viewed the environmental challenge as being mostly about carbon emissions, neglecting many other aspects that contribute to global climate disruptions: the disruption of the hydrological cycle alongside the carbon one, the decrease in soil fertility, and the territorial and ecological fragmentations contributing to the sixth mass extinction. All in all, climate security policy frameworks have largely failed to grapple with a deeper phenomenon: ecological disintegration is increasingly endogenous to the fragility of the international system as a whole, of which climate change is but one symptom.

Ecological Disruption

A more comprehensive approach would move beyond the current concept of climate security to a broader notion of ecological security.4 This would mean looking beyond carbon emissions and understanding climate change as an ecological crisis driven by an ongoing expansion in energy use, economic growth, and geopolitical competition. Climate change is a long-term process of all-encompassing ecological change and accelerating disintegration on a planetary scale. This process is driven by systemic assaults on marine and terrestrial ecosystems and resources that underpin food, water, health, and environmental security, as well as naturally regulate the global climate regime.5 If humanity were to stop using fossil fuels tomorrow but continue to plunder ecosystems, climate change would still reach catastrophic levels. The integrity of ecosystems is supported by the health of soils and corals, water and biodiversity, and the interdependencies between them. In turn, the health of the planet depends on the health of each and every interconnected ecosystem.

Understood in this way, ecological security is the precondition for all other types of security. Ecosystems provide life-generating and life-supporting systems that underpin human civilization. Without ecological security, socioeconomic and political fabrics unravel, leading over time to conflict and violence. Ecological security requires restoring the integrity of ecosystems and their interdependencies. But the EU is not yet institutionally equipped to tackle the wider parameters of ecological disintegration. It does not have the necessary competencies to understand security and ecological issues in an integrated way, nor does it have intra-institutional processes to design a strategic approach to the combined challenges of decarbonization along with the redesign of economic models. Different parts of the institutional machinery grab hold of specific elements of the puzzle that they can deal with as part of existing strategies—like building tentative climate factors into early warning systems, for example. But the siloes prevent the EU from systemically linking ecological issues to security policy.

Reconceptualizing security in the face of climate change requires the EU to adopt an ecosystems-based approach. The vitality of ecosystems and natural living systems is under threat globally. Poor development planning, infrastructure expansion, pollution, transformation of land and seascapes for agriculture and food production purposes, urbanization, energy development, and illicit trade are all contributing to the depletion of natural resources, thereby undercutting ecological interdependencies—a trend borne not just from climate change but also deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil impoverishment due to exploitation, and disruption of the hydrological cycle.

Current climate security responses generally fail to address the endangered resilience of ecosystems, which is allowing depletion to accelerate. As natural resources become scarcer, they become the driver of destabilizing forces, including growing insecurity, corruption, conflict and illicit economies, marginalization and inequality, political-economic exclusion, and geopolitical competition. These forces, in turn, fuel the planet’s trophic downgrading and more land, water, and nonrenewable resource predation—all of which further drive destabilization and climate disruption.6 The EU continues to focus on the tail-end impacts of ecological disruptions instead of adopting an ecological approach that redefines its engagements in foreign policy, development, trade, and climate adaptation and thereby addressing the actual drivers of ecological disruptions.

Some ecological trends are particularly worrying. Eighty-three percent of wild animal biodiversity has disappeared. While the loss has been driven primarily by socioeconomic expansion (urbanization and agricultural and extractive development) into wild areas, illegal wildlife trade and trafficking are increasingly contributing to the problem.7 The reason is simple: the rarer a resource becomes, the more lucrative it becomes to rent-seeking actors. In 2016, the World Bank estimated that wildlife trafficking ranges from $7 billion to $23 billion a year, with transnational criminal networks working across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to meet growing demand in China, Europe, and North America. Armed groups, such as the Janjaweed and the Lord’s Resistance Army, have engaged in wildlife trafficking to finance their other activities.8 Where biodiversity weakens, cascade effects can put entire food chains at risk. Soil fertility and water storage can decline—threatening even wet areas with progressive desertification, adding to climate change processes, and leading to sudden onset fires, including in relatively untouched areas.9 This is a process of scarcification. Scarcity, in other words, is not the result of natural processes but rather of human activities generating shortage, disruption, and insecurity. Further, in arid areas, natural resource decline has already led to changes in livelihood patterns and feedback loops with abundant contexts. For example, some nomadic herders from Niger and Chad now have to travel as far south as the Central African Republic to ensure the survival of their cattle. This creates a connecting node between interregional conflict systems. On the way, some herders start taking part in conflict economies, which include illegal timber logging, wildlife trade, and artisanal mineral extraction—all of which in turn contribute to trophic cascades, deforestation, soil pollution, desertification, and water evaporation.

The fragility of the water cycle is the core concern, and as such, should take center stage in policy and programmatic responses. Ecosystems in forests, grasslands, peatlands, and wetlands are responsible for cycling water—moving water from underground to atmospheric levels, cycling it from liquid to gas. Processes of evapotranspiration from vegetated areas and transpiration from desert areas cycle water, while soil quality helps to store water underground and replenish aquifers.10 With the plundering of ecosystems, the hydrological cycle is being broken, causing droughts, water scarcity, fires, and floods in ecologically depleted areas.

Disruptions transcend local impacts as water distribution within and between ecosystems becomes impeded. For example, wet forests in Central Africa distribute 40 percent of rain water to the Ethiopian highlands, where the Nile River begins.11 But with rampant deforestation and the continuing loss of biodiversity in Central Africa, the risk of droughts in the Ethiopian highlands and riparian states along the Nile adds another layer of complexity to discussions surrounding construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will inevitably change the Nile’s flow and geomorphology.12 The longer-term implications will be severe, as water stresses may lead to overt conflict among riparian states, as well as to intrastate food and water insecurity.

Preventing such scenarios does not just depend on the actions of Nile riparian states, but also on the development and economic pathways that Central African states adopt. Yet no multilateral agreements exist to help these regions make the best of their ecological interdependencies. While it is true that water scarcity does not lead automatically to conflict, it is also true that water conflicts have been on the rise across the globe, correlating with significant disruptions in the global hydrological cycle (see figure 1); water is now being released into the atmosphere twice as fast as previously forecast by climate models, compounding the effects of carbon dioxide at planetary level.13

The Merging of Climate and Water Security

The challenges are mighty, but actionable solutions are at hand. It is possible to restore the hydrological cycle by “replanting” water through context-adaptive ecological regeneration. Ecological designers and disaster risk reduction practitioners urge the international community to support landscaping techniques at scale to recreate water-retention landscapes. Through taking supportive topographical, ecological, and biological measures like these, it is possible to reboot ecological functions, replenish degraded resources, buffer extreme disasters, and provide food and water security from the local to the global level. These measures should be part of comprehensive regeneration agendas to achieve the critical restoration of ecosystems.

This needs to happen at a global scale so as to fight off increasing scarcity and run-away climate change scenarios, but certain areas demand priority attention. The map below identifies these priority areas for the immediate regeneration of ecosystems. Because many are located in conflict-affected and fragile areas, it is clear that regeneration measures must become part of conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution initiatives. Peacemaking actors need to adapt their mandate and scope of action quickly to make both human and ecological stabilization efforts a priority. This will not be easy because peacemaking actors have often dealt with natural resources in a siloed way. They need to shift their perspective toward making nature and its complex systems part of their analysis. Beyond this, they need to ensure that nature is discussed at the negotiation table—a tricky feat in conflict contexts where elites often depend on extractive and predatory politics to maintain their power.

Regeneration’s complexity also applies to the ecological dimension. It will require reconceptualizing land and sea use, redefining what development looks like, and tackling the nexus between extraction and predation within conflict and fragile regions. Comprehensive regeneration processes, based on inclusive ecological design, must be linked with political-economic and security sector reform processes. This is to ensure that natural resources do not drive conflict or fall prey to the plundering that weakens security at local, national, regional, and planetary scales. Redesigning regenerative landscapes is as much about the ecological as the socioeconomic benefits that accrue: supporting local biodiversity to reboot resilient systems, which often requires working with indigenous communities who have stewarded healthy ecosystems for centuries; replenishing and expanding water, food, and other resources, which will further support ancestral livelihoods and stable communities; and enshrining regeneration in cooperation and treaty agreements, which will nurture interest-based stakes among all those who depend on the integrity of the environment as a whole, particularly in transboundary contexts. Viewing peace and stabilization through the lens of political ecology is an invitation to rethink institutional, social, and economic relationships within and between human systems and ecosystems in a way that is truly equitable and sustainable.

Implementing a narrow climate security agenda while continuing current economic, political, institutional, and development practices in a business-as-usual way will undermine security at all scales (box 1 offers examples of this happening in practice). A complex regeneration agenda is needed to combine dividends in the fight against climate change, water scarcity, and fragility. The EU’s foreign policy should be redesigned accordingly, starting with an emphasis on conflict-affected and fragile zones and expanding into other areas of economic, development, and security cooperation. This will require the EU to use ecosystems-based mapping and to integrate new technical experts within its diplomatic and cooperation ranks, including ecological designers and hydrologists.

Box 1. Complex Regeneration: A New Field of Practice Within Environmental Peacemaking

Regeneration projects have been ongoing for decades, but the bridge between peacemaking actors and conservation/ecology actors has not been created—to the detriment of both. The ecological regeneration of priority areas located in fragile and conflict-affected contexts calls for complex approaches, which the EU should pilot, incubate, and expand upon.

For example, in the Kivus, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, simple regeneration projects were implemented in the Virunga National Park over the years by conservation actors. But these projects never took into account how important timber is to local and conflict economies. By looking only through an ecological lens, they fed the latter, thereby contributing to continuous conflict cycles. In their own field, peacemaking actors looked at their mandate through political and economic lenses only. They focused their attention on mineral extraction, while losing sight of the economies dependent on deforestation and of the pervasive effects the latter had on stability over time. In general, peacemaking actors focus on natural resources at the expense of natural ecosystems and end up facilitating agreements that undermine ecological integrity, thereby protracting conflicts over time. A set of common analyses, approaches, and tools are needed to ensure that safeguarding nature is considered part of peacebuilding.

There are examples of successful regeneration processes, but they are still vastly disconnected from political mediation, peace process design, and stabilization planning.

The Danish Refugee Council has been pioneering approaches for the regeneration of landscapes at micro-scales that support food and water security for communities in Burundi, Uganda, and Yemen.14 The work they do helps to dampen the effects of disasters such as floods or droughts, which tend to increase fragility for conflict-affected communities. Their pilot projects have also yielded results in terms of gender empowerment, governance strengthening, inter-community dialogue, and socioeconomic stabilization. But this type of work often remains confined to the realms of disaster risk reduction and community empowerment, without connecting with the larger stakes of peacemaking, even though the communities that work on regeneration could contribute to political processes aimed at solving conflict.

The same logic applies to more ambitious regeneration projects such as the WeatherMakers in the Sinai Peninsula; this effort could restore dynamic weather patterns and moisture distribution in Central Asia.15 Regeneration at all scales is urgent and necessary, but these environmental initiatives often take place without due consideration for the political and security implications involved with bringing back resources. Mediators and political experts are needed to accompany processes associated with nurturing ecosystems back to life and recreating governance agreements that help to maintain regenerative patterns and equitable sharing of resources.

Moreover, the EU faces another challenge in addition to pursuing complex regeneration and ecological diplomacy: preempting the risks associated with the union’s Green Deal and transition pathways. Indeed, if the EU and the rest of the international community were to switch to decarbonized energy systems tomorrow but continue to pursue growth as usual, fail to regenerate ecosystems, and underinvest in the prevention and resolution of conflicts worldwide, planetary boundaries would still be under threat. Conflicts and geopolitical destabilization would still deepen. Further, the EU also has the challenge of grappling with a wicked problem: the materials necessary for low-carbon and digital transitions are located in the critical ecosystems that need to be regenerated.

Managing the Green Deal’s External Risks

The European Green Deal stands on decarbonization and digitalization as the two legs of a whole-of-society and whole-of-economy transformation.16 This suggests that digitalization of the economy and technological innovation are central to solving the global climate crisis. By going virtual and being more technologically and energy efficient, the EU aims to decouple its economic footprint from the natural world, thereby ensuring continued GDP growth and socioeconomic progress while reducing its environmental impact. The implied assumption is that climate action does not require any fundamental change to the EU’s economic and financial models—rather it is simply the source of power used to sustain these models that must change. In this way, decarbonization and digitalization is presented as a security strategy by default.

This scenario is flawed. The EU may move away from fossil fuel—a hard enough endeavor—but its model for a low-carbon transition will entail extracting vast materials from the natural world. The EU’s current renewable and digital future depends on raw materials obtained through extractive mining—for its energy sector (solar, wind, fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries, transportation electrification); technology (robotics, digital technologies, 3D printing); and military equipment (drones). The EU currently views its “security” in terms of guaranteeing access to such materials.

Although it is necessary to decarbonize in order to stem climate change, the implications of the EU’s model are serious. It is known that “without dramatic shifts in economic development strategies away from a reliance on extraction, exploitation, and consumption . . . the world will not meet its ambitions goals for sustainable development, climate, and forests.”17 And yet the world is about to invest in an energy transition that will increasingly rely on extractive activities that compound environmental stresses and local human rights abuses.18

In 2017, the World Bank looked at the prospective impacts of mining for low-carbon transitions and concluded that a renewable energy future will actually be more material-intensive than current fossil fuel energy systems.19 The extraction of minerals and handling of rare earths and related materials are extremely water intensive and highly polluting processes, which compromise the quality and quantity of water available in the areas where extraction takes place.20 This then leads to a decrease in human health and food security and to changing rainfall patterns.21 In light of the growing scarcity of water globally, engineers worry that there will not be enough water to process the minerals necessary for the transition, but they fail to consider how extraction itself causes water depletion and hydrological disruption.

The European Environment Agency has voiced concerns about the current transition model.22 The decoupling of growth solely from carbon emissions may be possible for certain periods of time, but there exists no evidence that economy-wide resource decoupling is possible across the board. In fact, current evidence points to the opposite phenomenon: decoupling the economy from greenhouse gas emissions requires a recoupling of economic growth and resource extraction, risking further ecological disintegration.23

Geopolitical factors also come into play. The EU is one of the most resource-poor regions when it comes to the materials necessary for the decarbonization and digital transition. The EU’s main worry is that about 80 percent of known rare earth deposits and related resources are concentrated in China. This is an endowment that China has managed to leverage in its economic development and geoeconomic strategies. By vertically integrating its supply chain from extraction all the way through to processing and exporting, China has become globally central to low-carbon transition economies.24 The EU is therefore understandably intent on diversifying supply chains to ensure energy and technological security.25

However, alternative sources carry enormous strategic and ecological risks.26 The map below shows two critically important dimensions of the transition pathways. First, the locations of necessary resources overlap with critical ecosystems that house various types of biodiversity and that cycle carbon and water globally (see map 1).27 These ecosystems include the Amazon, the Congo Basin, the wet forests of Indonesia, as well as deep sea beds. Losing them to deforestation, pollution, and land and sea changes would accelerate ecological disintegration exponentially. Second, most of these resources are located in fragile and conflict zones. Mining and extractive ventures in these zones are often correlated with predatory behavior involving state and business elites and with extreme economic inequality.28 The risk of conflict is heightened by geopolitical competition in a race for resources that will see global demand soar in the next decade. In pursuing a decarbonization agenda, the ecological, human, and hard dimensions of insecurity will likely become more interconnected, along with the local and global dimensions.

Moving Beyond Indirect and Reactive Security Responses

Failing to connect the dots between decarbonization, ecological threats, and conflict horizons will leave the EU with what Richard Youngs describes as protective-autonomy responses (see chapter 1). It will lead the EU to build up defenses against growing climate-related risks and increasing migration in an ecologically disrupted world. Simultaneously, it will push the EU to prioritize geopolitical competition for ever-scarcer natural and mineral resources—an approach that will simply cause greater instability and insecurity in the future.

The EU needs to better understand the linkages among geopolitical competition, climate-related risks, and human survival before it can formulate a broader approach to ecological security. Moreover, it needs to appreciate the ecological and security implications of its current economic models and transition policies and adjust course accordingly. The EU should come to grips with the tensions between energy and ecological security. In the medium term, the union must be open to economic, fiscal, and political remodeling to ensure that it aligns its economic consumption and production patterns with planetary boundaries. This calls for simultaneously updating geopolitical, regional, and national security definitions and redesigning eco-social contracts at home and abroad, ensuring that they remain adaptable and based on the collectivization of responsibilities and risk responses.

Ecological disintegration presents the same threat as nuclear war: the collapse of civilization. Today, the risks of disintegration play out most acutely in key conflict and fragile zones, but they are not confined to these zones and instead constitute a systemic threat. Ecological disintegration must be fought both through direct interventions and systemic changes. In this sense, the EU must quickly start moving toward an ecological security agenda, and ecological diplomacy must become a frame for its foreign policy.

In practice, this means the European External Action Service (EEAS) must be equipped to better monitor and trace the threats to ecological integrity within and across ecosystems. Conflicts and insecurity must be analyzed through a systemic lens, designed to understand how various transnational threats converge and feed off of each other and how local dynamics lead to cascading effects that put the biosphere at risk and therefore international security as well. The conflict prevention, stabilization, and peacemaking teams within EEAS and CSDP missions should be better equipped—both quantitatively and qualitatively—to support conflict prevention and resolution but also to fully integrate ecological regeneration into their mandate.

It also means the EU needs to redesign its international partnerships to help countries build and empower their economies without endangering the ecological integrity of key ecosystems. This will, in part, force the union to investigate the fundamental tension between the need to regenerate critical ecosystems in fragile and conflict zones and its growing demand for goods from these areas in support of decarbonization. In short, ecological diplomacy should be designed to address the climate, biodiversity, pollution, water, and food crises altogether, while aiming to reshape geopolitics in support of human and ecological security.



1 Josep Borrell and Werner Hoyer, “Europe Must Become a Global Power,” Project Syndicate, January 22, 2021,;

2 Camilla Born, Karolina Eklöw, and Malin Mobjörk, “Advancing United Nations Responses to Climate-Related Security Risks,” SIPRI Policy Brief, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, September 2019,

3 “Lake Chad Risk Assessment Project,” Adelphi,

4 Rod Schoonover, Christine Cavallo, and Isabella Caltabiano, “The Security Threat That Binds Us: The Unravelling of Ecological and Natural Security and What the United States Can Do About It,” The Council on Strategic Risks, February 2021,

5 Lucas Stephens, Erle Ellis, and Dorian Fuller, “The Deep Anthropocene: A Revolution in Archeology Has Exposed the Extraordinary Extent of Human Influence Over Our Planet’s Past and Future,” Aeon Essays, October 1, 2020,

6 Trophic downgrading refers to the loss of keystone species, contributing to the collapse of biodiversity—which, in turn, adversely impacts other ecological functions such as water and carbon retention.

7 Schoonover, Cavallo, and Caltabiano, “The Security Threat That Binds Us.”

8 Gervais Ondoua Ondoua, Eustache Beodo Moundjim, Jean Claude Mambo Marindo, Rémi Jiagho, Leonard Usongo, and Liz Williamson, “An Assessment of Poaching and Wildlife Trafficking in the Garambo-Bili-Chinko Transboundary Landscape,” Traffic Report, December 2017,

9 James Estes, John Terborgh, Justin Brashares, Mary Power, Joel Berger, et al., “Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth,” Science 333, no. 6040 (2011): 301–306.

10 Antonio Nobre, “The Future Climate of Amazonia, Scientific Assessment Report,” Articulación Regional Amazôncia, October 2014,

11 Fred Pearce, “Earth’s Most Important Rivers Are in the Sky—and They’re Drying Up,” NewScientist, October 30, 2019,

12 Florian Krampe, Luc van de Goor, Anniek BarnHoorn, Elizabeth Smith, and Dan Smith, “Water Security and Governance in the Horn of Africa,” SIPRI Policy Paper, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, March 2020,

13 Peter Brannen, “The Strange Future Hurricane Harvey Portends: Climate Change Is Pushing More Water Into the Atmosphere—With Bizarre Consequences,” The Atlantic, August 31, 2017,

14 “Restoring the Colline,” YouTube video, 7:27, posted by Danish Refugee Council, November 20, 2020, accessed June 4, 2021,

15 “What If We Regreen the Sinai,” accessed June 4, 2021,

16 Council of the European Union, “Digitalization for the Benefit of the Environment: Council Approves Conclusions,” December 17, 2020,

17 New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), “Balancing Forests and Development: Addressing Infrastructure and Extractive Industries, Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods,” Progress Assessment of NYDF Goals 3 and 4, 2020,

18 Pheobe Weston, “Building a Green Economy Could Stop ‘Nightmare’ Degradation of Amazon,” Guardian, January 21, 2021,

19 World Bank Group, “The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future, Extractive Global Programmatic Support,” World Bank, June 30, 2017,

20 Emmanuel Hache, Charlene Barnet, and Gondia Sokhna Seck, “Les pressions sur l’eau, face ignorée de la transition énergétique” [Pressure on wáter, an overlooked aspect of the energy transition], The Conversation, February 16, 2021,; and Michael Standaert, “China Wrestles With the Toxic Aftermath of Rare Earth Mining,” Yale Environment 360, July 2, 2019, For more information, see “La Guerre des Métaux Rares,” Guillaume Pitron, Éditions LLL, 2018.

21 Amit Katwala, “The Spiralling Environmental Cost of Our Lithium Battery Addiction,” Wired, May 8, 2018,

22 See

23 T. Vadén, V. Lähde, A. Majava, P. Järvensivu, T. Toivanen, E. Hakala, and J.T. Eronen, “Decoupling for Ecological Sustainability: A Categorisation and Review of Research Literature,” Environmental Science & Policy 112 (2020): 236–244.

24 Jillian Ambrose, “Green Economy Plans Fuel New Metals and Energy ‘Supercycle’,” Guardian, January 10, 2021,

25 S. Bobba, S. Carrara, J. Huisman, F. Mathieux, and C. Pavel, “European Commission: Critical Materials for Strategic Technologies and Sectors in the EU—a Foresight Study,” European Commission, September 3, 2020,

26 Kali Taylor, “Youth Climate Action: Making COP Accessible to Young People,” (blog), International Institute for Sustainable Development, June 5, 2021,

27 University of Queensland, “Mining for Renewable Energy Could Be Another Threat to the Environment,”, September 2, 2020,

28 Rosa Alonso, “Privileges That Deny Rights: Extreme Inequality and the Hijacking of Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Oxfam International, September 30, 2015,