Western governments should consider stockpiling critical battery metals such as cobalt and lithium, the International Energy Agency said, in a stark warning of the geopolitical risks that accompany the green-energy transition.
That call comes as some policy makers worry the shift from burning fossil fuels to a greener economy will expose the world to new threats. Unlike oil, a relatively ubiquitous commodity, production and processing of minerals such as lithium, cobalt and some rare earth elements is highly concentrated, with the top three producers accounting for more than 75% of global supply.
Stockpiling programs could provide a valuable buffer as leading industrial nations look to develop reliable supplies of metals and minerals that will play a critical role in a decarbonizing world, the energy watchdog said in a report on Wednesday.
“Meeting our climate change goals will turbocharge demand for mineral resources,” Fatih Birol, the head of the IEA, said by phone. “Voluntary strategic stockpiling can in some cases help countries weather short-term supply disruptions.”
[Mark Burton and Javier Blas]