Sunday, 20 December 2009

Copenhagen and the Minerals Industry

After the predictable fiasco of Copenhagen, the question is where does this leave the minerals industry, one of the world’s greatest emitters of CO2 and under intense pressure to reduce those emissions?

The failure to arrive at binding legal agreements, merely producing expressions of intent, will fuel the global warming deniers who will use Copenhagen to show how politicians are happy to embrace anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory to collect green taxes, but when it comes to the big crunch they do basically nothing.

There is a big difference between a denier and a sceptic. The former often has little scientific knowledge and may have vested interests, in the same way that the tobacco companies once denied the link between smoking and lung cancer.

There is nothing wrong with being sceptical, as scientists should question the science of other scientists. Most scientists that I speak to agree that humans play a part in climate change, but are unsure of the extent of human input. The Royal Society’s committee on climate change is very much pro-AGW, but when I pushed one of their senior men some time ago as to what extent humans have contributed to temperature increases he said that he thought that AGW might have contributed about 90%.

This may seem a very vague response, but it is a sensible one, as in truth nobody really knows the human contribution. The important point is that if we agree that to some extent we contribute, then the exercise reduces to simple risk management- I don’t expect my house to catch fire today, but I pay the insurance just in case- it is too risky not to do.

So I ask the question again. What does the minerals industry do now- proceed with expensive schemes to reduce emissions, such as carbon capture and storage, or do as little as possible and make hay while the sun shines (ever hotter)? These are questions that I hope will be asked and hopefully answered at Climate Change ’11 in Falmouth.


  1. A skeptic, denier or supporter that is becoming irrelevant - A carbon footprint reduction culture is here to stay and mark our future affairs. Metals and Mining industry is adapting and all major players are getting serious about social responsibilities, environment, and safety. The industry may become a leader of change. Taking into account scarcity of natural resources, extraction technology challenges, permits sustainability, etc. implementing operational improvements at all levels are becoming essential. Carbon footprint reduction initiatives go hand-in-hand with ones for the operational improvements. It is already happening. Pls visit my site at and participate in the latest blog to uncover many such initiatives.

  2. Many thanks Djoko. I agree with you, there is little point in debating this further, it's action that counts now.

    Seen your website and like the things you do. Hope you can make it to the Climate Change conference in Falmouth in 2011.


If you have difficulty posting a comment, please email the comment to and I will submit on your behalf