Critical minerals for electric vehicles: A telecoupling review

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12 Scopus citations


The rapid growth of electric vehicles adoption, which plays a crucial role to reduce transportation carbon emissions, is leading to a surge in demand for critical minerals such as cobalt, nickel, lithium, and rare earths. Efforts to systematically address the emerging sustainability issues associated with critical minerals have been challenged by complex mineral supply chains, and the distal and geographically dispersed nature of social-ecological impacts from mineral extraction and processing and eventual use. In this review, we apply a bibliometric analysis of the literature in the 2010-2020 period to analyze the state of research on the issues of critical mineral extraction impacts and the global governance responses. We use the concept of telecoupling to structure our literature search and analysis across four themes: (a) critical minerals global trade and supply chain, (b) sustainability and resource policy and governance, (c) mining corporate social responsibility, and (d) information feedback and public discourse. We find a growing attention to the social-ecological implications of critical mineral extraction, but also fragmentation among thematic domains that could impede progress towards more coordinated system governance. Based on the analyses, the paper concludes with a definition of some research and engagement opportunities around the telecoupling themes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013005
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • corporate social responsibility
  • critical minerals
  • electric vehicles
  • mineral supply chain
  • public discourse
  • resource governance
  • telecoupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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