Opinion: ‘Dr Copper’ has a worrying message about the energy transition – by Daniel Yergin (Financial Times – July 13, 2022)


The writer chaired the new S&P Global study ‘The Future of Copper: Will the looming supply gap short-circuit the energy transition?’

As countries try to figure out how to meet their targets for net zero emissions, minerals have become a big target of concern. Several governments and international organisations have expressed alarm about whether there will be sufficient supply to meet the needs of, as the International Energy Agency puts it, moving “from a fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system”.

There has been much discussion of the lithium and cobalt needed for electric vehicle batteries. But less attention has been given to copper, though it is the foundation for the energy transition, indeed the “metal of electrification”. A new report focuses on this key role.

Copper is the oldest metal used by humanity, going back to 8000BC. It acquired its modern use in the 19th century, as a superb conductor of electricity.

It is also nicknamed “Dr Copper”. Owing to its widespread use and its sensitivity to business cycles, its price has an uncanny ability to provide early warning of what’s ahead for the economy. The current fall in the price of copper is seen as a portent of slowdown or outright recession.

For the rest of this column: https://www.ft.com/content/f199cd8e-a5aa-4202-9965-3c71748401eb