A businessman exploits people who dig in a mine to extract the materials needed to produce a new mobile phone, which they will never be able to purchase. This was the argument of the action organized by activists from SETEM Catalunya and Scientist Rebellion, this Monday morning at the gates of the Fira de Barcelona, in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, during the start of the Mobile World Congress (MWC).
With this performance, we wanted to show the invisible side of the MWC, as well as denounce the social and environmental impact of mining linked to the technology sector. Also, the lack of commitment of the big technological brands to reduce emissions has also been staged, techno-optimism has been criticized and the insistence on continuing to promote constant consumption by putting up barriers to repair.
“Many of these miners, in Africa, Asia and South America, work in inhumane conditions to satisfy our insatiable appetite for new electronic devices,” said an activist, who read a manifesto in the end of the action. He also highlighted that 75% of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there are undeclared artisanal mines where many people die. Workers are victims of injuries, sexual assaults, physical violence, displacement, and poverty. They have also condemned the toxicity of cobalt that triggers different pathologies such as cancer, respiratory diseases or painful skin conditions in miners, who work without protection.
In the manifesto, which was read in English, Spanish and Catalan, they pointed out that the technology sector is responsible for between 2% and 3% of global gas emissions. For example, Amazon disclosed in 2020 that its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of burning 140 million barrels of oil. Its emissions soared by 69% last year.
Activists have demanded an end to modern slavery and brands to respect ecological limits. “Stop this madness, it’s not too late. Don’t unleash tomorrow’s collapse today”, concluded the manifesto.