For some commentators, the Russian attack on Ukraine is the “first lithium war”. After all, a side effect of the Russian invasion could be to frustrate Europe’s plans for a secure supply of strategic, critical raw materials, which Ukraine has in abundance. Such considerations show the potentially explosive power of competition for critical raw materials for ‘green capitalism’.
President Xi Jinping’s announcement at the UN General Assembly in September that China will not build any new coal-fired power plants abroad in the future has given the international climate community new hope for an accelerated reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide, like the mirage of an oasis to the thirsty wanderers in the Sahara. For a real energy transition in the countries of the Global South, however, this is only one – albeit important – piece of the puzzle.
Advocates have been doing everything they can for years to stop the construction of new coal power plants. Xi Jinping’s announcement could bring an end to China’s position as the world’s largest and last major public financial backer and builder of coal fired power plants overseas.