The US’s transition to electric vehicles could require three times as much lithium as is currently produced for the entire global market, causing needless water shortages, Indigenous land grabs, and ecosystem destruction inside and outside its borders, new research finds.
It warns that unless the US’s dependence on cars in towns and cities falls drastically, the transition to lithium battery-powered electric vehicles by 2050 will deepen global environmental and social inequalities linked to mining – and may even jeopardize the 1.5C global heating target.
But ambitious policies investing in mass transit, walkable towns and cities, and robust battery recycling in the US would slash the amount of extra lithium required in 2050 by more than 90%.
In fact, this first-of-its-kind modeling shows it is possible to have more transport options for Americans that are safer, healthier and less segregated, and less harmful mining while making rapid progress to zero emissions.
The research by the Climate and Community Project and University of California, Davis, shared exclusively with the Guardian, comes at a critical juncture with the rollout of historic funding for electric vehicles through Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts.
Recognizing the harms of ‘white gold’
The global demand for lithium, also known as white gold, is predicted to rise over 40 times by 2040, driven predominantly by the shift to electric vehicles. Grassroots protests and lawsuits against lithium mining are on the rise from the US and Chile to Serbia and Tibet amid rising concern about the socio-environmental impacts and increasingly tense geopolitics around supply.
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Published on 2/20/2023 (30 days ago) Solar, Wind & EV's