Domestic Focus on Clean Energy Supply Chains Could Jeopardize Climate Success

Analysis of US efforts to shore up clean energy manufacturing and critical mineral supply chains finds significant gaps in current policy and recommends foreign policy actions to enhance US global leadership ahead of the G7 summit.

WASHINGTON, DC MAY 12, 2021 – A new report from Climate Advisers identifies a critical gap in recent US efforts to shore up clean energy manufacturing and critical mineral supply chains. Current efforts focus primarily on shoring up domestic supply chains. While such efforts are important, the report argues, more needs to be done at the international level to prevent supply chain disruptions affecting other countries from hindering global climate progress.

The report, Risks to Sustaining Climate Action: Why Securing Clean Energy Supply Chains Requires a Global Perspective, notes that a narrowly domestic approach to securing clean energy supply chains may jeopardize the global clean energy transition by overlooking the potential risks that trade wars, international conflicts, inadequate supply of key minerals and technologies, and other threats pose to other countries’ climate efforts. As the US accounts for less than 14% of global emissions, even a complete clean energy transition at home is not enough to achieve global climate goals and avoid damages the US government already anticipates could cost up to USD 2 trillion annually in the United States alone. To prevent this outcome, the report argues, the United States must work with the international community to increase the security of clean energy supply chains all over the world, thereby enabling all countries committed to climate action to implement ambitious climate policy measures.

“President Biden and Congress are working together on a bipartisan basis to ensure that our nation has reliable access to new clean energy technologies and the raw materials needed to manufacture them. While this is vitally important, stabilizing the Earth’s climate will require even more. We need to decarbonize all major economies, which means that clean energy technologies and critical minerals must be abundant for all. For this reason, the United States needs to start looking at the issue of clean energy security as a global challenge that requires a new foreign policy, not just a domestic U.S. goal,” Nigel Purvis, CEO of Climate Advisers and a primary author of the report said.

Climate Advisers’ research finds that there are no international institutions or efforts aimed at securing key clean energy supply chains for all countries committed to climate action. After detailing the risks that exist for clean energy supply chains today, the report offers new U.S. foreign policy recommendations to achieve global clean energy security. These recommendations include the following:

  • Working with close allies to create one or more international climate alliances that would expand markets for green technologies and essential minerals, encourage the sourcing of clean goods from reliable and stable democracies, and provide a platform for adopting a full range of clean energy security policies within a like-minded group.
  • Leverage both future trade agreements and existing domestic trade law to make clean energy supply chains more durable and resilient.
  • Developing international cooperation and governance mechanisms and institutions to advance technology, dialogue, information sharing, and more through the G7, G20, or other political fora.
  • Creating an international governance blueprint that would streamline and, where appropriate, centralize international capacity to help nations focus and take action to address the biggest risks.

“While the problem is far too big for any one country to tackle on its own, there’s quite a bit the United States can do to make global clean energy supply chains more reliable for all countries committed to climate action. A natural first step would be for the Biden administration to rally support for multilateral solutions, including at the upcoming G7 summit,” said Josh McBee, a primary author of the report.


Kyle Saukas

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Climate Advisers works to strengthen climate action in the United States and around the world through research, analysis, public policy advocacy and communications strategies. We partner with governments, non-profits, philanthropies, international organizations, financial institutions and companies to help deliver the clean economy. We develop and promote sensible, high-impact initiatives that improve lives, enhance international security and strengthen communities. Climate Advisers currently consists of several independent organizations collaborating to advance the same mission, including: Climate Advisers Trust, a U.S. non-profit, Climate Advisers United Kingdom, a U.K. non-profit, and Climate Advisers Incorporated, a global consultancy.