What is needed is urgent investment – private and public – in technologies that will address these issues. We must find materials for constructing batteries, solar panels and wind turbines without using resources that will lay waste to landscapes or the seabed and we must do this in the shortest time possible. Funding such work must be seen as a critical imperative. We can reach net-zero emissions and protect the environment, but only if such work is financed swiftly and comprehensively.
They’re worried that there won’t be sufficient terrestrial minerals to move away from fossil fuels. But we also mustn’t go deep sea mining because cute worms down there. So, spend fortunes trying to get out of this box.
Which betrays two logical failures – mutually contradictory as they slightly are.
The first is that just because we want there to be a solution doesn’t mean there is. This is true however much of our money is funnelled through the bureaucracy. Chemistry is chemistry, batteries that don’t rely upon cobalt may or may not be possible. But how much Rishi spends makes no difference to that whether they are or not.
The second, and contradictory to some extent, one is that they believe their own errors. All are so tied into this Club of Rome idea that terrestrial minerals are in short supply, that we’re about to run out, that they actually believe there aren’t enough to supply the transition. But this in itself is wrong. There’s plenty of cobalt, of copper, of rare earths, out there. It’s just a matter of how much we’re prepared to pay to get it. Your back garden has all three (or, counting the REs separately, all 19) of them in it. So, how much is your back garden worth, what’s the price of extracting them? Answers there are lots and too much but there’re bits of the planet where this isn’t true. We can indeed gain all the metals we desire we just have to be willing to pay the price. The entire thought that we face a metals shortage is driven by the earlier mistake of not understanding what a mineral reserve is in the first place.