Almost twice the world’s cobalt production required to meet UK EV targets, scientists warn


Current worldwide cobalt production would have to almost double for the UK to hit EV targets, leading scientists have warned.

In a letter to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), a group of leading researchers, headed by the Natural History Museum’s head of Earth sciences Professor Richard Herrington, believe a dramatic increase in supplies of metals will be needed for fresh targets to be achieved. A recommendation to the government from CCC last month suggested electric vehicles should be the only options available on the new market from 2035 at the earliest.

According to the Natural History Museum, three-quarters of the world’s lithium carbonate, over half of annual output of copper and nearly the entire global production of neodymium would be required if all 31.5 million of the cars on UK roads were to be replaced with current day EVs.

Commenting on the letter, Professor Herrington said: “The urgent need to cut carbon dioxide emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but to keep them charged.

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“Over the next few decades, global supply of raw materials must drastically change to accommodate not just the UK’s transformation to a low carbon economy, but the whole world’s.”

In 2017, the Government revealed plans to eliminate sales of new petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040.