The transition to green energy won’t be a happy-clappy global project, but a cut-throat geopolitical race, says Bruno Maçães in The New Statesman. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said his country must lead the renewable energy revolution primarily to “win the strategic competition with China”. Beijing, aware that Britain “rose to world domination” through coal and America through oil, has other ideas. It plans to build at least 150 nuclear power plants in the next 15 years – more than the rest of the world has managed in the past 35.
Covid was a “grand rehearsal” for all this. Rather than the world coming together, countries hoarded masks and ventilators. “Morbid league tables” circulated showing rates of infection and death in each nation. But the selfish drive for profit helped us develop vaccines. Countries will also race to “corner the market” in lucrative green technologies that they can then export. It will mean a “scramble for control” of metal deposits in Africa, which are crucial for making batteries. Demand for the materials in solar panels is likely to triple in the next few decades. That’s the thing about states: they can move fast if there’s something in it for them. “It was ever thus in world politics.”