Raw Materials in Sweden and Finland Could Accelerate EU's Decarbonization

Raw Materials in Sweden and Finland Could Accelerate EU's Decarbonization

In the wake of supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU is looking for ways to accelerate its decarbonization efforts and wean off Russian fossil fuels. Metals and raw materials will be vital in transitioning Europe’s energy sector to clean technologies. Still, a lack of domestic mining activity and policies promoting clean energy will slow the charge. However, Sweden and Finland’s mineral-rich bedrock might be the answer to the EU’s deficit. The two Scandinavian countries have the potential to produce every critical raw material on the EU’s supply list and continue to feed Europe’s decarbonization efforts.

CNBC: Sweden and Finland want to join NATO | Here’s how that would work, June 7, 2022.

Why This Matters

The European Association of Metals (Eurometaux) estimates that lithium usage in clean energy technologies will increase by an enormous 2,109% over the next 30 years and that 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed to expand wind, solar, and geothermal energy systems to meet climate change targets. Swedish and Finnish mines could alleviate some of the supply issues that are preventing the bloc from achieving faster decarbonization efforts, and propel the EU into a more energy-independent future rooted in cleaner technologies.

DW: Lithium Shortage | How Much Lithium Does the World Need?, April 22, 2022.

Eurometaux: Metals for Clean Energy | Solving Europe's raw materials challenge, April 26, 2022.

Building Practical & Effective Clean Energy

Climate leaders agree that any slowdown in decarbonization efforts could be disastrous for global warming targets. Still, it is imperative to build an energy supply system that can effectively tackle the climate crisis and maximize clean sources' potential without adding new stress. Increased mining activity in Sweden and Finland has already caused an uproar among environmentalists worried about biodiversity loss and land contamination. These efforts are futile if the energy sector merely transitions from one environmentally harmful source to another without addressing the impact. To manage environmental costs and consequences, Norway’s capital Oslo has developed a "carbon-budgeting” plan that aims to drastically reduce emissions and reinvent city systems within a sustainable mindset.

Sweden: Green energy, October 25, 2021.

Sky News: Sweden pioneers green steel production, using hydrogen rather than coal, June 15, 2022.

CNBC: Sweden and Finland want to join NATO. Here's how that would work, June 7, 2022.

European Parliamentary Research Service: Fitfor55 | A new energy system, May 13, 2022.