OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: White gold? The great lithium squeeze threatens the electric revolution

·2-min read
The rise in EVs is causing a lithium shortage (Doug Peters / PA) (PA Wire)
The rise in EVs is causing a lithium shortage (Doug Peters / PA) (PA Wire)

Coal, oil and gas — three fossil fuels that drove the industrial revolution and to this day continue to dictate the price of goods all over the world. But as we shift away from carbon-intensive fuels and towards net-zero emissions, we will remain reliant on finite and hard to reach resources. For electric car manufacturing, and the batteries required to power them, lithium is key.

The UK has pledged to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. Other countries have similar policies, and as such demand for electric vehicles is set to skyrocket. But there is a global supply shortage of the material, which could last for years. And prices are rising, which will have a knock-on effect on the cost of cars.

The Serbian government yesterday cancelled plans for a new mine — to be undertaken by Rio Tinto — due to public opposition. This draws into sharper focus supply issues despite a so-called “white gold rush” for the metal.

Renewable electricity and zero-carbon fuels are the future. But the transition is a vast undertaking and will be bumpy, as anyone paying an energy bill this year knows all too well.

Jobs for the young

The Standard’s Skill Up Step Up campaign, a £1 million initiative in partnership with Barclays to upskill unemployed and disadvantaged Londoners to be “work ready”, is already making a difference.

More than 100 jobless young Londoners who have been up-skilled by Springboard, one of the charities involved, will be given the chance of a first rung on the career ladder thanks to almost a dozen companies which have stepped in to join the campaign. Youth unemployment is starting to fall in the capital, but it remains 44 per cent higher than at the start of the pandemic.

With high levels of joblessness but also record job vacancies, it is more crucial than ever that we address the skills mismatch to help young people progress in their careers and lives.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting