Climate Action

Interview with Steve Kukoda, Vice President of the International Copper Association

Climate Action spoke with the Vice President of the International Copper Association - a not-for-profit trade association.

  • 01 November 2016
  • William Brittlebank

Climate Action spoke with the Vice President of the International Copper Association - a not-for-profit trade association.


Firstly, could you please introduce who ICA are and what you do?

ICA is a not-for-profit trade association. Our mission is to bring together the global copper industry to develop and defend markets for copper, and to make a positive contribution to society’s sustainable development goals. Through ICA’s programs, we are making a positive impact on all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. ICA is a credible expert ant thought leader on energy efficiency, and the largest percentage of our budget goes towards Energy Policy and Efficiency Standards work.


What is the importance of copper specifically over other metals?

Copper’s unique properties provide significant advantages over other materials:

It is the best (non-precious) conductor of heat and electricity, so it is critical to energy efficiency, renewables, electric vehicles, etc.
Copper is naturally antimicrobial, and in clinical trials Antimicrobial Copper reduced hospital-acquired infections by nearly 60%; HAIs claim 1,000 lives every day.
Copper is 100% recyclable; copper can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss of property; aluminium – already an inferior conductor to copper – loses its conductive property when recycled, so an aluminium wire becomes an aluminium can; this is “down-cycling”.
Copper’s antimicrobial property transfers to marine environments, where it’s anti-fouling ability is revolutionizing the fish-farming industry, which is critical to food supply issues. Copper is much stronger than traditional fish-farming materials, which provides durability during storms (climate change adaptation benefit).


What role does/can copper play in the fight against climate change?

As the best electrical conductor the products that contain tend to operate more efficiently. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), half of the actions needed to meet global climate change goals can be met through energy efficiency; copper powers the products that need to operate more efficiently. Copper is also critical to renewable energy, which requires 4-12 times as much copper as traditional power generation. Electric Vehicles use 2-4 times more copper than internal combustion engine vehicles. Since copper is essential to all these low-carbon technologies, it is indispensable in climate change mitigation efforts.


Please could you outline ICA’s core initiatives and support functions?

ICA’s core initiatives are in the areas of public affairs (which encompasses our work in advocacy, health/environment/sustainable development, and strategic communications. Our market development programs are in the areas of energy efficiency, wire & cable, non-electrical applications, and technical & market support. ICA’s market development programs are designed to connect copper – in a positive way – to global sustainable development challenges.

Our core initiatives are supported by market analysis & outreach, and developing/maintaining partnerships with more than 500 organizations external to the copper industry.


ICA is a strategic partner of the upcoming Sustainable Innovation Forum in Marrakech. What were your motivations behind your involvement with this event?

ICA manages programs around the world that are making a positive impact on sustainable development goals. We have developed innovative technologies and solutions that are proven to work. We hope the SIF in Marrakech will help us to identify new partners with aligned missions, so that we can scale-up our critical work. SIF also provides an opportunity for us to promote the copper industry’s contributions to sustainable development to new audiences.


What topics do you hope will be discussed at SIF?

Our primary work is in the area of energy efficiency. As noted above, EE provides a realistic pathway towards achieving the COP21 goals. Yet, the adoption of EE solutions is unnecessarily slow. For example, only 30% of energy-consuming products have a minimum energy performance standard (MEPS). While many countries have MEPS for electric motors, less than 10% of the installed base of motors comply with even the lowest MEPS. Financing for EE also lags far behind that for renewables.

We hope SIF provides a forum to raise the awareness of these issues.