In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and amid heightened tensions with China, the United States and its key partners are making a concerted effort to diversify and friendshore clean energy supply chains, relocating them to countries with shared interests or values. G7 countries are focusing especially on the critical minerals that are needed for renewable electricity production and batteries.
In June 2022, the United States and its G7 partners launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) to build clean energy supply chains. They also signed the Minerals Security Partnership to produce, process, and recycle critical minerals. Subsequently at Davos, in January 2023, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that a key pillar of the EU’s new industrial strategy will be global partnerships to access inputs needed for industry. This builds on existing EU initiatives, such as the European Battery Alliance and the Critical Raw Materials Act, which both aim to onshore and secure supply chains.
These initiatives mark the emergence of a phenomenon we call “joint industrial policy:” when states coordinate their industrial strategies at the international level and build supply chains collaboratively. Joint industrial policy entails states working together to secure supplies of needed technologies and create markets in support of net-zero industries in their home countries.
The push for collaborative strategies for critical minerals raises important questions: how much critical minerals could the United States and its partners produce, and where should they focus efforts to diversify and rebalance clean energy supply chains?
In a new study of these issues, the Net Zero Industrial Policy Lab at Johns Hopkins University finds that partnerships among democratic states would be able to produce enough minerals to enable the world to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more ambitious target in the Paris Agreement. However, producing enough metals to meet these targets would require extraordinary technological and financial cooperation.