Batteries Not Included

The world is moving toward electric vehicles and clean energy, but a green future doesn’t depend on wind turbines, solar panels, and Teslas alone. It will also require a vast supply of advanced batteries. As a result, global demand for lithium—an essential battery ingredient—is outpacing supply, with the gap expected to grow in the years to come.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Frank Fannon
    Managing Director, Fannon Global Advisors
  • Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
    Global Energy & Climate Innovation Editor, The Economist

Show Notes

Lithium is a lightweight metal used in most rechargeable batteries, from the pocket-sized batteries found in iPhones and computers to the heavy-duty ones that power electric vehicles  and home energy storage. This makes it a critical resource in the new energy economy. But there isn’t enough usable lithium to meet growing demand, and some experts fear that the trend threatens our ability to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F) by 2030. 

Corporations, lawmakers, and entrepreneurs are attempting to ramp up capacity, but problematic supply chains and China’s market dominance present significant challenges. Plus, lithium extraction is a messy business, and debate is growing about whether to mine and refine in the U.S.



From CFR 


James McBride and Anshu Siripurapu “How Does the U.S. Power Grid Work?


Shannon K. O’Neil, “U.S. Should Look South for Better Supply Chains



From Our Guests


Frank Fannon and Michael R. Pompeo, “Time for a Responsible Clean Energy Supply Chain,” Foreign Policy


Frank Fannon, “US needs to lead the way in building a new energy supply chain,” Financial Times


Vijay Vaitheeswaran, “How can the world’s energy be decarbonised?,” Economist 


Vijay Vaitheeswaran and Iain Carson, ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, Twelve 



Read More


Cade Metz, “Your Batteries Are Due for Disruption,” New York Times


Clifford Krauss, “Green-Energy Race Draws an American Underdog to Bolivia’s Lithium,” New York Times


Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton, “The electric-vehicle race is creating a gold rush for lithium, raising environmental concerns.,” New York Times


Justine Calma, “The US wants to fix its broken lithium battery supply chain,” Verge


Keith Bradsher and Michael Forsythe, “Why a Chinese Company Dominates Electric Car Batteries,” New York Times


MacDonald Dzirutwe and Tom Daly, “China’s Huayou buys lithium mine in Zimbabwe for $422 mln,” Reuters 


Mary Hui, “China’s lithium companies are in an investment frenzy,” Quartz



Watch and Listen 


Going Green With Lithium Has Environmentalists Torn,” Vice News


Lithium 101,” National Geographic


South America’s Lithium Boom: A Blessing Or A Curse?,” NowThis World


The ‘white gold rush’: Inside a lithium mine, where stores of recyclable energy lie,” ABC News 


Will green technology kill Chile’s deserts?,” The Guardian

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Billions of people will take to the polls next year, marking the world’s largest-ever electoral field. But this historic scale is not the only thing that will make 2024 unique. As new threats like deep fakes become cheaper and more widespread, these upcoming elections could serve as a test run for democracy in the artificial intelligence (AI) era. What risks does AI pose to elections next year? And will a surge in AI-powered disinformation change the nature of democratic elections?

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Scenes from the Israel-Hamas war have reverberated across the world. In the United States, debate about the conflict has intensified, and it has resurfaced long-standing questions about policy toward Israel and the Palestinian territories. What is the U.S. goal for the region? And how is the United States responding to the war?


International trade has shaped the world for much of the past century. Countries benefited from the global flow of goods, and the world became richer and safer. At the same time, many Americans lost their jobs to cheaper overseas competitors. Now, a series of compounding challenges, including great power competition and climate change, have led U.S. officials to rethink trade policy. What's next for international trade? And can the United States retain the benefits of trade while protecting critical supply chains and fighting climate change?

Top Stories on CFR

The War in Ukraine


The United States and its allies have imposed broad economic penalties on Russia over its war in Ukraine. As the conflict continues, experts debate whether the sanctions are working.