The UK government has committed to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, catalysing substantial growth in the clean energy sector. As a result, the demand for materials such as rare earths, used in magnets, cobalt, used in lithium ion batteries and platinum group metals that are key to clean energy technologies, continues to increase as we move to a carbon-neutral society.
However, these materials are deemed ‘critical’ as their supply is restricted by a range of geological, economic, technological and political factors even as global demand increases. For example, there has been significant attention in recent months on the potential for critical materials to be used as leverage in trade disputes.
To address this challenge the CREAM Network has drawn together a panel of experts to help secure the future UK supply of technology-critical materials. The Securing Strategic Elements & Critical Materials for the United Kingdom Policy Commission aims to develop a UK strategy for the supply of so-called strategic elements and critical materials – components of many modern technologies that are vital to the UK economy. For example, Critical materials underpin future supply chains in the automotive, energy generation, robotics and electronics sectors.
The Policy Commission is chaired by former Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington and is supported by a panel of expert commissioners that represent the full materials supply chain. These commissioners provided expertise on policy, technology, trade, regulation, ethics and national security to formulate a series of recommendations to securing UK interests in this sector.