Belgian climate activist Adélaïde Charlier on how the #LookDown campaign seeks to stop deep-sea mining before it begins, and how you can get involved.

Transcript: How we can stop deep-sea mining before it begins 

TEDxLondon Climate Curious

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Climate Quickie: How we can stop deep-sea mining before it begins 

In July 2023, deep-sea mining will ramp up across the world. It’s been proposed, and opposed, for decades. Climate Curious speaks to Belgian climate activist Adélaïde Charlier about her work as part of the #LookDown campaign to stop this, and how you can support her cause to explore, not exploit, our deep sea oceans.

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Maryam Pasha:

In this week’s Climate Quickie from Climate Curious by TEDxLondon, we hear from a Belgian climate activist stopping deep sea mining as part of the ‘Look Down’ campaign, Adélaïde Charlier.

If you’ve ever wondered why we need to protect the deep sea ocean, what people are even mining down there, and the amazing successes ‘Look Down’ has already achieved – keep listening!

Over to Adélaïde to share why we should explore, not exploit, the deep seas. 

Stay Curious!

Adélaïde Charlier

Hi, I am Adélaïde. I’m a climate and human rights activist from Belgium. I’m also a student.

I study political science here. I’m 22 years old and for the past five years I’ve been doing activism around climate and human rights issues. Well, I think the first thing to note down is that we know very little to almost nothing about what is actually down there in the deep sea and deep ocean.

We’ve mapped out 5% of the deep sea and we’ve explored only 20%. So this means that we know best. How the moon looks like and what is on the moon rather than what is actually in the deep ocean.

But what we do know is that there are some polymetallic nodules.We do huge mining to get those. And we use these different materials for our computers, for phones and many technologies that we’re developing today.

We also know that it’s a space full of biodiversity. It’s a huge ecosystem that we barely know because Every time we go back down there, we either find new species or we learn new things about the species that we know about.So it’s a new discovery every time. 

And so we don’t know how this ecosystem is maybe allowing life on Earth and life all across this planet.

So the idea of mining is that there are those special materials, those polymetallic nodules or batteries.

Yeah. And a lot of new technologies. 

Scientists are really calling for a precautionary principle. So this means not going deep sea mining before we know more, before we know the impact that that will have on biodiversity and therefore also on humans and our own ecosystems that we are part of.

So the campaign that we launched was, uh, started in France and under the name of Look Down. It’s inspired from the Don’t Look Up movie, um, where this time we really ask people to, well, look down into the ocean.

So really this idea that we want to explore and not exploit. And the idea of what’s going on now is that we’re moving too fast from exploration to exploitation. And so this campaign was launched with the idea that all countries that have this contract of exploring for the moment, and that will soon, and that can happen this summer already.

We’re talking about international water. So we’re talking about spaces that are kind to everyone and no one space at the same time. And in order to make sure there will be no exploitation in general, no matter which country it is, we need to be able to be aligned on an international level.

So we are lobbying, we are doing actions, we are mobilising in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Canada, and many others, to make sure that our country will refuse to exploit those platforms. And for scientists, it’s saying, don’t explore too fast, so give us a break, a time.

Scientists are saying that they need at least 10 to 30 years to continue the exploration. And so that’s what we’re demanding in our countries. 

What we’ve heard is that starting from this summer, July 2023, there can be given exploitation permits.

So starting from this summer, we have the risk that some companies, some countries will send their boats out with these huge machines that go all the way down to around 4, 000 metres, uh, deep. to get those um, those special materials. And that’s really our biggest fear, and that’s why the movement has grown all across the world, and that we continue the pressure, especially until July 23, because we need to make sure that there will be no exploitation this summer, and that we continue the pressure as long as possible to make sure that no project will ever see the day.

So, the mobilisation did work in many countries, and we see that the lobbying and actions really brought beautiful successes. But we still need to continue if we want to make sure that no boats will go and exploit the deep ocean this summer.

I think that I’m an ordinary person, except that I’m a climate justice activist now, so I’ve been dedicating my life to that, but the thing is that the ocean is so far away, especially the deep sea ocean, and we’ll probably, it’s probably hard for all of us to have this special connection with the deep sea.

I don’t even really know if I have it, but what we all have is this idea that we do want, okay. Most of us have this idea that we want to protect now, what is still alive on this earth and that we don’t want to make the biodiversity crisis worst. And what we have to understand is that actually the destruction starts with projects that start on our land.

And the reason why personally, for example, I felt so close to this campaign is because I see that Belgium is organising and preparing a robot, and the robot is being prepared in my own university. And so it’s because I see that a destruction that would happen super far away, where no one would know and would notice, but the source of the destruction literally happens at the, next to my house.

And I, I think that it’s crucial for everyone to understand that actually most projects do start and have a source next to our places and whether it’s deep sea mining, because this is literally happening for more than 30 countries and nationalities can feel concerned about the subject.

There’s any other destruction projects we could care about. Um, I think the main message is that it’s okay to not feel touched by the deep sea mining, but I think if you are touched by any destruction of the environment and of humans, then this is part of what you should be fighting because it’s about making sure that we’re not closing our eyes to more destruction that we don’t even know what would mean for us and for species.

So the campaign is called look down and, I think the best way and the easiest way to do is on all your social media look up for, well, look for #LookDown campaign.

So you can support many activists that are working on such campaigns thanks to the Hero app.

The Hero app is bringing in different activists and mainly circles. So, you’re not just supporting one activist, you’re supporting a circle of activists working together on many campaigns. So it’s a crucial support for us.



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