Screening of the criticality level for precious metals on social sustainability issues
Keisuke Nansai1, Nao Tsukamoto2, Susumu Tohno2, Yasushi Kondo3, Shigemi Kagawa4
1National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan; 2Kyoto University, Japan; 3Waseda University, Japan; 4Kyushu University, Japan
New energy technologies including renewable energy is supposed to be indispensable to hance environmental sustainability. The mass introduction of those technologies in our society can be expected to mitigate the large amount of greenhouse gases emissions. However, at the same time, it also brings considerable increase of demand for precious metals which are used in a core parts of fuel cells and electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles. The increased demand may result in worsening environment as water pollution and loss of biodiversity through land use change associated with resource mining. Some previous studies have quantitatively demonstrated such causal relationships between resource consumptions and environmental issues. On the other hand, discovery of social sustainability issues induced by resource consumption is still limited because it needs time and labour costs for steady investigations to find out the social impacts step-by-step, which are related to the mining activities of the resources. As included in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adapted in 2015, social issues to be considered cover a broad range. Therefore, as screening for detecting significant relations between the mining of precious metals and all social issues targeted in SDGs, we examined the qualitative relationships between resource demand for the metals and various indicators quantifying the social issues. Multiple regression analysis was performed to model the relationships between the social factors and the mining activities. Explained variables are above-mentioned social indicators and the amount of mining of precious metals and base metals are defined as explanatory variables. The results for each metal will be reported at the conference.