Future resource conflicts over lithium and rare earth elements?

In early June adelphi, together with the Wuppertal Institute, led a scenario workshop on “Lithium and Rare Earth Elements: Opportunities, Risks and Conflicts".

14/06/2010

Lithium and rare earth elements are resources increasingly in demand – they have become indispensable for many high-tech developments in the environmental sector. Rare earths, for example, are an important component of catalysts and high-performance super magnets, which are used in wind power instalations as well as in electric motors. Without lithium for light, high-performance batteries, plans for zero-emissions individual transport based on electric vehicles would be difficult to achieve.

In order to avoid past mistakes and to develop early strategies and actions to control conflict risks, it is important to consider already today a range of possible developments for these raw materials.

Fifteen participants with regional, conflict, and natural resource expertise thus developed four future scenarios for Bolivia and China, for the year 2030. These in turn are part of the larger research project "Avoiding Resource Conflicts Sustainably", conducted by adelphi and the Wuppertal Institute on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency.