Technology A shortage of these metals could make the climate crisis worse
Opinion: Who pays the price for climate crisis
As we mark International Women's Day, a top priority must be to apply a gender lens to one of the Biden administration's key issues: climate change, write Melanne Verveer and Jessica Smith of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security. Verveer and Smith lay out four steps the administration should take to treat climate change as what it is: a threat mutilpier for vulnerable women who, if empowered, could lead the charge for change.President Joe Biden wasted no time after assuming office in taking unprecedented steps to advance women's equality within his own administration.
The world won't be able to tackle theunless there is a sharp increase in the supply of metals required to produce , solar panels, wind turbines and other clean energy technologies, according to the International Energy Agency.
As countries switch to green energy, demand for copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements is soaring. But they are all vulnerable to price volatility and shortages, the agency warned in a report published on Wednesday, because their supply chains are opaque, the quality of available deposits is declining and mining companies face stricter environmental and social standards.
The US has a chance fix its broken climate risk disclosure system
If companies ignore their vulnerability to climate change, the global economy is at risk.Financial regulators in the US are grappling with that question now. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened a 90-day public comment period in March that will inform the first update to federal climate risk disclosure guidelines in a decade. Shareholder groups and asset managers like BlackRock (CEO Larry Fink wrote in February that “climate risk is investment risk”) are pressuring boardrooms to improve corporate transparency around climate risks.
Limited access to known mineral deposits is another risk factor. Three countries together control more than 75% of the global output of lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements. Thewas responsible for 70% of cobalt production in 2019, and while refining 50% to 70% of lithium and cobalt, and nearly 90% of rare earth elements. Australia is the other power player.
In the past, mining companies have responded to higher demand by increasing their investment in new projects. But it takes on average 16 years from the discovery of a deposit for a mine to start production, according to the IEA. Current supply and investment plans are geared to "gradual, insufficient action on climate change," it warned.
Opinion: California wildfires. Hurricanes on the coast. Is anywhere safe from the climate crisis?
After visiting Tracy, a woman in California who is ready to flee her dream house to escape wildfires and other effects of climate catastrophe, John Sutter traveled halfway across the country, to Duluth, Minnesota to try to answer her question: Where can she go? Is anywhere safe? It turns out, Tracy isn't alone in asking the question.Tracy thought she'd built her forever home. She and her 5-year-old granddaughter live in an energy-efficient house in Northern California that Tracy designed — by a pond that's frequented by otters, ducks and herons (oh my!).
"These risks to the reliability, affordability and sustainability of mineral supply are manageable, but they are real," the Paris-based agency said in the most comprehensive report on the issue to date. "How policy makers and companies respond will determine whether critical minerals are a vital enabler for clean energy transitions, or a bottleneck in the process."
The minerals are essential to technologies that are expected to play a leading role in combating climate change.
The average electric car requires six times more minerals than a conventional car, according to the IEA. Lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite are crucial to batteries. Electricity networks need huge amounts of copper and aluminum, while rare earth elements are used in the magnets needed to make wind turbines work.
Meeting the goals of thewill require a "significant" increase in clean energy, according to the IEA, which estimates that the annual installation of wind turbines would need to grow threefold by 2040 and electric car sales would need to expand 25 times over the same period. Reaching net zero emissions by 2050 would require even more investment.
The Weekly Planet: An Outdated Idea Is Still Shaping Climate Policy
Biden’s team is split on how to think about climate change.The moderate Democratic president wanted the United States to tackle climate change, and he had pledged to get serious about it during the recent campaign. On the president’s desk sat a memorandum laying out two options.
"The data shows a looming mismatch between the world's strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realizing those ambitions," Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement. "The challenges are not insurmountable, but governments must give clear signals about how they plan to turn their climate pledges into action."
The agency said that policymakers should provide more clarity on the energy transition, promote the development of new technology and recycling, enhance supply chain resilience and encourage higher environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
The IEA, which advises the world's richest countries and was founded after the oil supply shocks in the 1970s, said that mineral supplies will be the energy security challenge of the 21st century.
"Concerns about price volatility and security of supply do not disappear in an electrified, renewables-rich energy system," it said.
Summit shows Biden's big vision on fighting climate change .
WASHINGTON (AP) — What did the world learn at Joe Biden's global summit about his vision of the battle to save the world’s climate? For two days, Biden and his team of climate experts pressed his case that tackling global warming not only can avert an existential threat, but also benefit the U.S. economy — and the world’s as well. The virtual summit, based at the White House and featuring more than 40 world leaders whose views were beamed to a global online audience, offered fresh details on how the U.S. might hope to supercharge its efforts on climate while leveraging international action to spur new technologies to help save the planet.