The production of vehicle batteries, particularly those used in electric vehicles (EVs), has been linked to human rights abuses and exploitation, including slavery, in several countries.
One example is the mining of cobalt, a key component of many lithium-ion batteries. Cobalt mining often takes place in countries with poor labor protections and high rates of child labor, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A number of reports and investigations have documented the use of child labor, hazardous working conditions, and other abuses in cobalt mines in the DRC. Some companies that have been identified as sources of cobalt linked to these abuses include Glencore, a Swiss commodity trading and mining company, and Huayou Cobalt, a Chinese company.
Other minerals used in the production of EV batteries, such as lithium and nickel, have also been linked to human rights abuses and environmental degradation in various countries.
It’s important to note that the supply chains for these minerals are complex and often involve multiple intermediaries, making it difficult for companies to trace the source of the materials they use. However, a number of initiatives, such as the Responsible Minerals Initiative and the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, are working to promote responsible sourcing and supply chain transparency in the minerals industry.
The amount of oil used to build an electric vehicle (EV) depends on a number of factors, including the size and type of the vehicle, the efficiency of the manufacturing process, and the source of the materials used.
On average, it is estimated that the production of an EV requires about 18 to 28 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). This includes the energy required to extract, refine, and transport the raw materials used to build the vehicle, as well as the energy needed for the manufacturing process itself.
In comparison, the production of a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle is estimated to require about 44 to 54 BOE. This means that, over the course of its production, an EV is likely to use less oil than a traditional vehicle.
It’s worth noting that the energy used to manufacture an EV can come from a variety of sources, including fossil fuels and renewable energy. As the use of renewable energy in manufacturing and other industries increases, the carbon footprint of EV production is likely to decrease although that’s not the end of the issue.
Worldwide, the majority of electricity is generated from fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, and oil. These sources of energy are used to power steam turbines, which generate electricity by turning generators.
According to the International Energy Agency, from 2019 to 2022, fossil fuels accounted for about 85% of global electricity generation. Specifically, coal was the largest source, followed by natural gas and oil.
While electric vehicles (EVs) do not emit greenhouse gases or other pollutants directly, they are still linked to fossil fuels if the electricity used to power them is generated from fossil fuels. For example, if an EV is charged using electricity from a coal-fired power plant, it could be considered indirectly linked to coal.
On the other hand, if an EV is charged using electricity from a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind power, it is not directly linked to fossil fuels. In this case, the EV’s carbon footprint is largely determined by the emissions associated with the manufacturing process, which, as I mentioned earlier, is estimated to be about 18 to 28 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) on average.
It’s worth noting that the electricity mix varies significantly from one country to another, and some countries are making efforts to shift to more renewable sources of electricity.
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