Energia e ambienteRapporti

Strategic autonomy in the cleantech rush: Europe, United States and China

Abstract

Recent global geopolitical shifts are reshaping the landscape of the clean technology market during a pivotal phase of its expansion. As competition in clean technology production intensifies, the dynamics of sourcing the components needed for manufacturing are moulding strategic relationships among major economic powers and are becoming decisive in determining the success of the ecological transition. Recent policies aimed at promoting the cleantech market underscore facets of strategic autonomy. This report delves into the concept of strategic autonomy, examining the reasons behind its emergence in the public debate and its impact on geopolitical balances. Specifically, it considers the policies adopted by the European Union, the United States, and China, along with the factors highlighting these powers’ pursuit of autonomy in developing resilient supply chains. The report presents two key insights. Firstly, it emphasizes that hostilities and economic competition between major powers, such as China and the United States, risk having a negative impact on climate mitigation policies. If environmental policies draw their effectiveness from state cooperation, the need to decouple national markets to avoid over-dependency could prove detrimental to the development of these supply chains, ultimately increasing the final cost of clean technologies. Secondly, given the disparities in production capacity for major technologies among different regions, especially in comparison to China, the dominant player today, it is unrealistic for many countries to effectively compete in every segment of production chains. Consequently, import openness from third-party countries remains crucial for various regions to foster the cleantech industry. In this regard, the report concludes that a European de-risking strategy, reducing the risk of dependence on third-party countries, is more desirable for cleantech supply chain resilience compared to autonomy strategies and protectionist policies.

by Marcello Orecchia and Gabriele Romeo

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