Be Green and Oppose Mining — Oops — UK scientists warn raw material output must surge to match EV growth

Greens oppose mining but demand more electric vehicles. The numbers below are just for the UK. If everyone else follows … catastrophic fail.

British climate targets alone will require the current annual global production of cobalt to double by 2050, in order to satisfy electric vehicle growth demands. A large increase in other raw materials will also be needed, according to UK scientists.

In a letter to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on Wednesday (5 June), a team of scientists suggests that the CCC’s proposed target of net-zero emissions by 2050 will need almost all cars and vans on British roads to be electric-battery powered.

The team, which supports that goal, outlined the raw material needs and challenges that will come hand-in-hand with such an ambitious target. Current battery production requires materials like cobalt, copper and nickel.

Professor Richard Herrington of the Natural History Museum said in a statement that “there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged”.

He and his colleagues calculated that switching all of the UK’s light vehicles to electric will require 207,900 tonnes of cobalt, 264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate and over 2,300,000 tonnes of copper.

That amount of cobalt is twice the current global output, while the required amount of lithium is 75% of production and accounts for at least half of the copper output.

The calculation does not include heavy or light goods vehicles.

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