The electrification of society requires “Locally grown minerals"
Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Global emissions must be reduced, however doing so without rolling back development is crucial. One of the biggest challenges for governments worldwide is to view the Earth’s ecosystem as a whole, and to avoid implementing short-term political “poster policies” in some countries or regions and not others.
In a world where solar and wind energy is becoming increasingly important, so too becomes the need to store the surplus green electricity during particularly sunny or windy periods. In northern Europe, this stored energy is particularly required in the winter due to the increased electricity demands, and therefore large, powerful batteries are needed to store this electricity.
Energy storage is not the only growing market for batteries. The vehicle industry is also another market where demands for batteries are ever increasing. One of the world's largest battery manufacturing plants is currently under construction in Sweden and once this plant is operating minerals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt or tungsten will be required in large quantities. Minerals that are already in short supply as society shifts to electrification to reduce emissions of fossil fuels.
These minerals are found throughout Europe, not least in Sweden, but the environmental movement effectively ensures that they are to remain in the ground. Instead, these minerals are imported from other areas of the world, such as from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (with an estimated 20% of mines mostly employing child labor) or the now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, who even before their takeover of Kabul were enriching themselves with revenues from mineral mining.
According to the Pentagon, the Taliban's Afghanistan has a good chance of becoming a "Saudi Arabia for lithium". This is hardly beneficial for human rights, and this surely will not help to save the climate and reach the goals set by UN.
Although all the minerals we need exist in the EU, especially in Sweden, we have chosen not to utilize these "locally cultivated minerals" due to our local environmental reasons and policies. In order to meet the new challenges facing both our environment and our sustainable development, a wholistic approach that accounts for the complexities is truly the only way forward for a sustainable future for us and future generations.
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