4. Resources: Critical Elements

Welcome to the unit Resources: Critical Elements

Critical elements are all around us. They are needed for your mobile phone, your car, computer and tablet and they are fundamental for the so called clean energy transition moving away from fossil fuels. You have learned in Unit 1 that the geopolitical landscape will change dramatically during the transition from fossil fuels to critical elements. What are critical elements and why are they “critical”? An element, mineral or material, is critical if it is a) not easily accessible, b) there are no large resources or the resources are concentrated in one area, c) it depends on locality and how they are mined (sustainability, responsibility, politically)?, d) and whether or not this resource is recyclable. Unfortunately, quite a number of important elements that are used for the clean energy transition and a lot of modern devices are critical. Let’s have a closer look at these elements, discuss their demand and supply, and implications for society and geopolitics.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

In this unit, you will be able to

  • recognize multiple dimensions of critical elements in society
  • develop an understanding of the formation and supply of critical elements, and implications for society and geopolitics
  • discuss possible responses in real practice.