Building a sustainable EV battery supply chain: new report

The transition to EVs frequently raises questions about the sustainability of batteries, from mining impacts to vehicle carbon emissions. To address these questions, the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) are conducting a research initiative focused on identifying strategies to improve sustainability and governance across the EV battery supply chain. CLEE and NRGI convened stakeholders from the mining, battery manufacturing, automaker, and governance observer/advocate sectors, to develop policy and industry responses to human rights, environmental and other risks facing the supply chain.

As the first step in this initiative, CLEE and NRGI have prepared a background brief to address key questions such as:

  • What does the supply chain for EV batteries comprise?
  • How do carbon emissions from EVs compare to those from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles?
  • What are the most significant challenges associated with managing the mineral extraction processes necessary for the EV supply chain, and what sustainability and human rights initiatives apply to these challenges?

The brief includes a number of preliminary findings, such as:

  • The greenhouse gas emissions benefits of EVs are clear, and will grow as global electricity supplies become increasingly less carbon-intensive.
  • The supply chain is complex and subject to a number of potential bottlenecks where few countries or companies are responsible for dominant shares of production.
  • Various stages of the supply chain in locations around the world present sustainability risks, from low-level corruption to displacement of local populations, but these risks are not unique to EV mineral extraction—and a number of global initiatives are working to address them.
  • However, supply chain players will need to significantly improve coordination and data-sharing efforts to achieve long-term sustainability.

CLEE and NRGI will release a full report later this year building on these findings and offering policy recommendations to address key risks.

Source: UC Berkeley