Full Title: Sustainable Electric Vehicle Batteries
Author(s): Ethan Elkind, Katie Segal, and Ted Lamm
Publisher(s): Berkeley Law Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment
Publication Date: March 18, 2022
Full Text: Download Resource
Electrifying the transportation sector is a crucial component of reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally. However, as the auto industry begins to compete with consumer electronics as a major source of demand for the lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other minerals needed for electric vehicle (EV) battery production (including for electric buses, bicycles, and scooters), it risks exacerbating existing environmental and social challenges across mining, processing, reuse, recycling and manufacturing.
At the same time, the growth of this industry presents impacted communities with a window of opportunity to coordinate expanded advocacy efforts and promote EV battery production initiatives that incorporate and address both historic and ongoing human rights impacts, governance needs, and local environmental impacts, while providing economic opportunity for communities. As the electric vehicle industry expands to meet the need for decarbonized transportation, its leaders have the opportunity to leverage their considerable purchasing power to insist on sustainable practices and outcomes from its supply chain partners, from mining to reuse and recycling. This issue brief identifies key strategies for the electrified transportation industry to promote better practices in mineral extraction while ensuring achievement of essential climate goals.
To address the challenge, UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment (CLEE) convened experts in December 2021 to discuss opportunities for increased advocacy and collaboration and to identify policy challenges and opportunities. Participants included international human rights organizations, environmental organizations, transportation-focused organizations, mineral governance-focused organizations, and research institutes (please see Appendix A for a list of participants). This issue brief summarizes key points from the discussion, including barriers participants identified to achieving a sustainable EV battery supply chain, along with solutions to overcome each barrier.