The much touted green energy economy and Net Zero goals are built on the dirty little secrets of slavery, child labour and environmental destruction, according to H. Sterling Burnett of the libertarian U.S. think tank the Heartland Institute. Those pushing Net Zero, like the Democrats in the U.S. and green energy elites profiting from mandates and subsidies, know child and slave labour is used to produce the minerals their green technologies demand. “They claim to care about it, but their actions belie their words,” charges Sterling Burnett.
It is time these issues were brought into the forefront of the Net Zero debate. Many societies around the world are hurtling towards the disastrous goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Years of relentless virtue signalling and hysterical climate scare mongering has set the scene for a collectivist re-ordering of society under the ridiculous notion that 80% of our current cheap and efficient energy sources can be replaced in less than 30 years by windmills and solar panels. In his eye-opening essay in Saturday’s Daily Sceptic, Andrew Montford, Deputy Director of Net Zero Watch, noted that it has long been clear that inhabitants of the Westminster Village had been happy to hype up fears of climate purgatory “and to fib about the road to redemption”.
Furthermore, noted Montford, a huge pipeline of wind projects is in place already, each eligible for an astonishing array of hidden subsidies. “Once built, they will suck wealth from our economy and hope from our society,” he observed.
Sterling Burnett writes that – according to the International Energy Agency – offshore wind requires more scarce minerals, rare earth elements and other critical metals per kilowatt hour of energy produced than any other source of electric power generation, renewable and non-renewable alike. Onshore wind and solar are the next that need critical mineral resources. The vast majority of these critical minerals and elements are mined abroad and almost all the refining is done by China alone.
A single onshore wind turbine requires up to three metric tons of copper and magnets, continues Sterling Burnett. Thousands of pounds of ore must be mined to produce a single pound of rare earths, while between 200,000 to 1,500,000 pounds of earth must be moved to produce the lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and other trace elements necessary to produce a battery pack for a single electric car. Billions of tones will have to be mined and refined to produce the large scale battery facilities providing backup power when wind and solar are offline. Sterling Burnett doesn’t mention it in his essay, but all these batteries will need to be replaced within 10 years, despite there not being enough lithium and cobalt to provide for the first round of manufacture.
Montford is in no doubt what the future holds if we continue along this path: “If we do not reverse course soon, our children will never know the wealth we have enjoyed until now, just poverty, rationing and hardship. And all because everyone is too scared to challenge the lies.”
Until that day comes, the relentless growth of the modern windmill business looks set to condemn ever more children to life in the mines. The conditions under which many of these materials are produced from mine to finished products are appalling, notes Sterling Burnett. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a large percentage of the world’s cobalt is mined under appalling conditions at small mines. “Child labour is not the exception, but the norm there,” he writes.
He continues: “Increasing the demand for cobalt will increase pressure on cobalt mines to produce more, meaning either more children will be put to work, or existing child labourers will be forced to work harder under dangerous conditions.” In the U.S., the Biden Administration acknowledged the problem of slave labour in China, having signed the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act in 2021. But the reality of today’s supply chain, combined with insufficient intelligence on the ground, “makes it almost a certainty” that the green energy transition will be built with mineral, rare earth elements and parts using Chinese slave labour.
In addition, writes Sterling Burnett, a prominent form of modern slavery is climate imperialism, or eco-colonialism, with restrictive energy policies conceived and promoted by politicians in western economies being forced on some of the world’s poorest. “Though branded as environmentally friendly, these outlandish policies deny economic growth to those who most need it,” he writes. “In moral terms, the West’s climate obsession is immorally condemning present generations of impoverished peoples and nations to continued penury and early death.”
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.