Let us not replace one dependence with another

(EurActiv, 22 Mar 2022) The soaring price of rare metals could become a crisis on a par with energy costs if political leaders do not take action now, writes Zakia Khattabi.

Zakia Khattabi is Belgium’s federal minister for climate, environment, sustainable development and Green Deal.

Crises follow one another and they have in common that they all demonstrate the need to work towards more anticipation, prevention, and strategic foresight – whether it is to prevent these crises or to be able to cushion the violence of their impact on our daily lives quickly and effectively.

In addition to the explosion of energy costs that we are experiencing today and to which we are responding with and in emergency, another crisis is looming: the soaring prices of rare metals.

If not addressed today, it will potentially have the same consequences that we are currently experiencing with energy. The prospect of the development of renewable energies, the extension/development of nuclear power, the electrification of mobility, and our digital needs inevitably imply an increase in the demand for rare metals.

It must therefore urge us to anticipate new vulnerabilities related to the availability of rare earths and critical metals. As with energy, the stakes are environmental, economic, and geopolitical, given our dependence on a limited number of producing countries (China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, etc.).

The excessive use of raw materials was already highlighted in the “Limits to Growth” report of the Club of Rome in 1972.

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EurActiv, 22 Mar 2022: Let us not replace one dependence with another