The Idea That ‘Green Technology’ Can Help Save the Environment Is Dangerous

Industrialists around the world have been extracting a wide array of minerals and metals to build electric vehicles and ‘cleaner’ batteries, simply replacing one injustice with another.

“Listen to the science,” they insist. Public support for climate action has been burgeoning around the globe, with lakhs of people in various countries demanding governments act now to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis. Governments and corporations have been responding by announcing substantial commitments to forge cleaner paths into the future.

But in all this clamour, two dangerous ideas fester.

The first is the legitimisation of further emission of greenhouse gases, at least until around 2050. This is curious considering scientists have presented evidence that the powers that be should act now, not later. Experts have also said many scientific reports on the subject might even have underestimated the risk of delayed action. So why the delay?

A part of it is rooted in buying time to allow the global energy sector to transition from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives, such as renewables like wind and solar power. Most of the loudest voices demanding protective, adaptive and rehabilitative climate action have supported the need for such a transition – including proponents of the ‘Green New Deal’ in the US, Extinction Rebellion campaigners protesting near oil fields, the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change and international activists like Greta Thunberg.

But as it happens, the idea that ‘green technology’ can help save the environment is dangerous because it glosses over the alternatives’ ills. In a bid to reduce the extraction of hydrocarbons for fuel as well as to manufacture components for more efficient electronic and mechanical systems, industrialists around the world have been extracting a wide array of minerals and metals, destroying entire ecosystems and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. It’s as if one injustice has replaced another.

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