4.6.4.1 Examples of negative consequences

An example of the risks associated with the quest for PTPs is the transition to a renewable energy economy that is driving the growing demand for batteries, solar panels and digital devices, all of which require mining of lithium, cobalt and other rare Earth minerals (Dutta et al., 2016). While this creates economic benefits for mining communities, it can also produce negative ecological, economic and social impacts in the near, medium and long-term (Soto, Hernandez and Newell, 2022; Manzetti and Mariasiu, 2015). The industrial mining sector has been accused of supporting state violence and corruption, polluting ecosystems and failing to relieve poverty, while the informal mining sector is known for ignoring occupational safety and health standards and human rights concerns (Calvão et al., 2021;Sovacool, 2019). 

Other prominent examples of unintended consequences have been documented for a variety of cases linked to positive interventions for sustainability. Some large-scale renewable and bioenergy projects have resulted in significant local opposition (Cavicchi, 2018) and have resulted in the displacement of Indigenous peoples and local communities (UNPFII, 2023; Zurba and Bullock, 2020) as well as impacting small-scale fisheries (Beckensteiner et al., 2023). Other potential impacts of such renewable energy projects include deforestation (Kraxner et al., 2013), biodiversity losses (Pedroli, et al., 2013) and competition for land and water resources; which can also lead to food insecurity (Hasegawa et al., 2020). Decarbonisation of the built environment, particularly the housing stock, has resulted in health impacts from poor indoor air quality, and fuel poverty (Davies and Oreszczyn, 2012). Carbon offset markets have driven afforestation in open ecosystems, resulting in negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem function and livelihoods (Bond et al., 2019).

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