The criticality of lithium and the sustainability-finance nexus: Supply-demand perceptions, state policies, production networks, and financial actorsAleksandra Wojewska / Cornelia Staritz / Bernhard Tröster / Luisa Leisenheimer
Wien, Februar 2023
The eco-technological fix to the climate crisis renders certain resources, such as lithium, as ‘critical’. We argue that criticality is actively produced in socio-technological processes and is interrelated with strategies of firm strategies in global production networks (GPNs) and financial actors, legitimizing extractivism for sustainability transformations. Financial actors mobilize ‘green’ investment stories along the sustainability-finance nexus and shape the lithium GPN through financing and price-determination. This enables the shifting of extractive frontiers and creates variable price-setting regimes in lithium linked to derivative markets. Financial interests introduce an additional speculative momentum to lithium extraction, contributing to accelerating boom-bust patterns and short-termism.