Chapter 9.2.1 Strategic approaches

Minimise demand for transition materials

Develop a Resource Justice Strategy to deal with energy transition materials, such as lithium, which are needed for the energy transition.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
International
Behaviour change
Emissions reduction

Transition minerals such as the metals cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel and rare earth elements are vital to the energy transition away from fossil fuels. While Scotland must transform its energy systems to meet its climate goals, to do so without minimising demand for transition minerals will compromise the aims of a Just Transition and risk failing to deliver a fully renewable energy system.

The social and environmental damage created by transition mineral supply chains is extensive and serious, including human rights and labour abuses, environmental destruction and associated exacerbation of climate injustice. As countries around the world seek to decarbonise their energy systems, demand for transition minerals is predicted to increase rapidly, alongside the associated social and environmental harm. For instance, the global demand for lithium could increase by as much as fifty times over the next twenty years and currently only a tiny fraction of used lithium is recycled.

The Scottish Government must create a Resource Justice Strategy for Scotland, which includes within it a plan for fair and sustainable consumption of transition minerals.

The aim of the Resource Justice Strategy should be to ensure Scotland’s consumption of materials is sustainable as soon as possible and no later than 2045. The approach should be guided by statutory and science-based consumption reduction targets, with 2030 interim targets to ensure action begins as soon as possible. Successfully meeting these targets will require policies which focus on demand reduction, the development of clear and transparent datasets and the implementation of a collaborative policy process.

The Resource Justice Strategy should include specific requirements to ensure Scotland’s consumption of transition minerals is sustainable and just as the energy transition progresses. Other material policies, such as Scotland’s Circular Economy Strategy and Waste Route Map, should also be part of the Resource Justice Strategy framework. Existing policies should be adapted to reflect the Resource Justice Strategy and those policies under development should embed the strategy’s overarching principles.

The Resource Justice Strategy should be based on five key pillars:

  1. commitment to a globally-just material transition
  2. consumption reduction targets
  3. demand reduction policies
  4. clear and transparent data
  5. fair and collaborative policy process

For further information:

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.