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Decarbonisation and Critical Materials in the Context of Fraught Geopolitics: Europe’s Distinctive Approach to a Net Zero Future


The race to rapidly decarbonise and digitalise the global economy by 2030 to avoid temperatures rising above 1.5C has been subsumed by geopolitics that remains anchored in realist power struggles, now revolving around Sino-American hyper-competition. The Russian invasion of Ukraine further undermined interdependence and prompted unprecedented levels of economic statecraft. Access to indispensable minerals for a net zero future has thus become more securitised. The European Union (EU) has pushed back against bipolar geopolitics by utilising its normative, economic and regulatory power and strong networks of global institutional relations to maintain a competitive but working relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Such an approach may help broker broader global institutional collaboration to ensure that decarbonisation is for all, not just for the few.
Keywords: interdependence; critical materials; global liberalism; IRENA; EU Green Deal