Prof. Aseem Prakash on Forbes, "Blind Spots In Climate Policy: EV Supply Chain And Climate Adaptation"

Prof. Aseem Prakash and colleague Nives Dolšak question whether the zero-emission goal is possible with the industrial supply chain.

Tesla announced that it produced over 0.5 million cars last year. Tesla (with only 1.5% US market share) is the most crucial driver of the massive industry-wide transformation. But it is not the only player in the EV race. Many startups and existing auto companies have jumped in. In 2010, the total number of EVs (including plug-in hybrids) stood at 17,000. Deloitte reports that 2.5 million new EVs (and plug-ins) were sold in 2020 and projects the number will rise to 31 million by 2030. According to one estimate, a typical electric car requires about 180 pounds of Copper. This means that EVs alone would increase global Copper demand 12-fold. Or, take the case of Lithium or Cobalt. Every electric car requires 10-20 pounds of Cobalt and 40 pounds of Lithium.

Climate policymakers have not provided estimates of the extent to which recycling and new technologies (such as iron flow batteries) might reduce the demand for these inputs. While the focus on zero-emissions targets is welcome, policymakers need to start taking adaptation more seriously. A crucial next step will be to establish measurable targets to guide adaptation activities. And also, policymakers need to dig deeper to figure out the supply requirements to support the electrification of the auto industry.

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