Include raw materials planning in EU climate plans, say experts

The European Commission should require member states to incorporate materials planning into their National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) to help secure environmentally sustainable supplies of metals and minerals required for decarbonisation, academics have said.

The recommendation is among several in a Science paper setting out how global materials supply chains could be better coordinated to meet rising demand and mitigate environmental damage.

Decarbonising the global economy is expected to substantially increase demand for rare metals and minerals used in renewable energy technology. 

Materials for electric vehicle batteries are projected to increase by 87,000% between 2015 and 2060, 1,000% for wind power, and 3,000% for solar. Extraction is often characterised by mismanagement and the cause of severe environmental damage, including biodiversity degradation and water pollution. Mining is highly energy intensive and difficult to decarbonise. The paper suggests there is a real risk that a shortage of materials could prevent urgent decarbonisation.

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