Intel Community Warns Fight Over Green Energy Tech Will Worsen Global Tensions

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter & Pentagon Correspondent
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Fights over scarce resources needed to wean off dependence on fossil fuels for energy could increase in the future, contributing to geopolitical chaos, according to an intelligence document released Wednesday.

Green energy technologies rely on vast areas of land, water and certain critical minerals that are produced by a small number of countries, including China. As the U.S. and other developed countries double down on efforts to replace greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources with those perceived as climate friendly, resource disparity and disagreements about the best way to pursue the energy transition could create opportunities for future conflicts between countries, the U.S. intelligence community’s yearly threat assessment found.

“Climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to U.S. national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about the global response to the challenge,” the assessment reads. (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Secretary Calls Going Green ‘The Greatest Peace Plan’ In History)

China dominates the market for materials like silicon and lithium that are critical for building green energy technologies, possibly throwing a wrench into the West’s efforts to de-carbonize as tensions skyrocket between the U.S. and China.

“Geopolitical tensions between countries about how to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are likely to grow,” the assessment continues. “States will compete to try to control resources and dominate the new technologies needed for a global transition to low-carbon energy.”

The assessment warned that less developed countries are jockeying for assistance in completing the so-called energy transition without the domestic resources necessary to do so. Many high and middle-income countries have yet to contribute to the Paris Accords pledge to provide $100 billion per year in climate financing to poorer countries.

President Joe Biden and nearly 200 other state leaders promised to create a fund to compensate poorer nations for natural disasters, such as droughts and hurricanes, some say are increasing as a result of climate change.

However, the assessment warned that China and India, the world’s first and third top greenhouse gas emitters, severely restrict what the U.S. and allies can do to mitigate emissions. Both countries rely heavily on coal for cheap energy generation, while economic growth only fuels more domestic demand.

In addition, decreased availability of water resources and arable land on some continents combined with a rush to establish control over increasingly accessible Arctic territory could present opportunities for conflict.

Arctic countries, which include both Russia and the U.S., are competing for influence over the formerly unusable land, according to the assessment. The intelligence community predicted an uptick in economic and military activities in the region, increasing the likelihood that two adversarial countries could miscalculate and spark escalation.

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