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Critical Mineral Policy in a Post-COP26 World

During his opening remarks at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, U.S. President Joe Biden called for a “decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future.”

With greenhouse gases from transportation accounting for roughly 30 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions, electric vehicles and overall increased transportation electrification will play a central role in U.S. efforts to deliver on this “decade of ambition.”

In a new report for the Atlantic Council titled “The Role of Minerals in Realizing US Transportation Electrification Goals” Reed Blakemore, Deputy Director of the Global Energy Center, discusses the uptake of EV battery and overall green energy technology in the transportation sector, and the associated skyrocketing growth of critical minerals needs.

Blakemore argues that while efforts by both policy makers and industry to secure access to the materials underpinning the green energy shift are underway, those efforts “might pale in comparison to the scale and pace of mineral demand growth,” which in turn poses “a number of risks and opportunities that policymakers should consider”:

“in particular, the risks of an unhealthy supply chain imposing prohibitive costs on automakers and consumers, as well as the opportunity for Washington—through prompt and decisive action— to ensure that the investment, governance, and environmental stewardship of minerals development is done in a sustainable way that empowers US leadership in the electrification of transportation.”

The study recommends that policy makers, in their pursuit of ambitious electrification goals, abide by the following overarching principles:

- “Aim for an overabundance of mineral supplies by investing in best-in-class domestic mineral resources and expertise, while collaborating with partner countries to grow capacity through- out the mineral supply chain;

- Encourage cross-industry partnerships to reinforce the EV value chain from mine to road;

- Place sustainability at the forefront of the EV mineral conversation to establish the centrality of mineral resiliency, taking action to ensure verifiable environmental stewardship, sustainable investment practices, and good governance at home and abroad.”

He closes:

“The Biden administration’s goals for EV deployment will have a transformative impact on the broader decarbonization and economic goals of the United States. Minerals will be critical to make that transformation successful, and policymakers should not forget their importance as the policy pathways for EV deployment fall into place.“

Click here to read the full study.