Less than a decade remains until sales of new gasoline and diesel cars are forbidden.
And around the world, demand for metals vital for new green technologies – like lithium in batteries for electric vehicles – is booming.
The UK currently has no commercial production of lithium and the industry is in its infancy.
Cornish Lithium is exploring two sites in Cornwall – one in hard rock and the other in geothermal waters.
Jeremy Wrathall, chief executive of the company, says he believes sufficient lithium could have been found in Cornwall to meet UK needs within 10 years.
But commercial production of Cornish Lithium is still several years away.
He said: “Europe and the UK have a serious problem with the supply of chemicals that need to go into electric vehicles.
“The penny recently fell along with the British government.
“We are far behind China. China has been planning this for years.
“They could see electric vehicles on the horizon. They’ve locked down the entire supply chain they need.
“And that really puts Europe and the UK at a disadvantage. It is an extremely disturbing image. “
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Most of the world’s lithium currently comes from Australia and South America and then ships to China for processing into batteries.
The Faraday Institute, the UK’s independent electrochemical energy storage research institute, estimates that the UK will need around 75,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year by 2035 to meet its production needs. .
And until the UK can find lithium closer to home, imports will skyrocket, raising questions about the supply chain and its environmental footprint, according to Professor Richard Herrington, head of science for Earth at the Natural History Museum.
He said: “The UK government is committed to being net zero carbon by 2050, which is a really laudable goal, but we know that to achieve that goal we need mitigation technologies – we need to switch from burning carbon to our electricity and we need to stop burning hydrocarbons in our cars.
“It’s inevitable that you can’t have the massive energy revolution we want without this mining that goes with it. “
The International Energy Agency has warned that supplies of critical minerals essential for key clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines must increase dramatically over the coming decades to meet global climate goals.
He said that building a typical electric car uses six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car.
Sky News launched the first daily prime-time news program dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show airs at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it will follow Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
The show will also highlight solutions to the crisis and show how small changes can make a big difference.