|Author Name||ABRAHAM, David (Former Visiting Scholar, RIETI)|
|Creation Date/NO.||March 2012 12-P-005|
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Emerging green technologies are the most significant and realistic path to reducing global dependence on polluting fossil fuels while simultaneously decreasing the reliance of many countries on oil-rich regimes to meet their energy needs. However, as nations begin to rely on green energy products, they are trading one set of resource dependencies for another. Wind and sun produce energy, but rare minerals like neodymium and tellurium are essential in applications to harness that power. To the extent countries begin to rely on these green energy sources to produce, use, and store power, the geopolitical significance of rare minerals rises. It highlights an emerging reality: the battle for new resources. Despite the importance of green technology to the future of global power generation, very little analysis to date has outlined the geopolitical repercussions of shifting reliance on traditional fossil fuels to an undefined mix of alternative energy sources. Previous research assumes that green technology adoption is limited by its current high cost; will free societies from dependency on countries producing fossil fuels; and is a panacea for reducing environmental degradation caused by those fossil fuels. Green technology therefore can make countries more energy secure. However the reality is stark: the world cannot meet projected green technology demands with its current rare mineral resource supply. There are steps that countries can take to address increasing minor metal demands including R&D investments, recycling, and encouraging better product design. But shortages of some minerals are inevitable and will impact geopolitical relations.