Building a Sustainable Electric Vehicle Battery Supply Chain

April 2020
The global transition from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to battery electric vehicles (EVs) will require the production of hundreds of millions of batteries. This massive deployment frequently raises questions from the general public and critics alike about the sustainability of the battery supply chain, from mining impacts to vehicle carbon emissions.
To address these questions, CLEE and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) are conducting an stakeholder-led research initiative focused on identifying strategies to improve sustainability and governance across the EV battery supply chain. CLEE and NRGI convened leaders from across the mining, battery manufacturing, automaker, and governance observer/advocate sectors, to develop policy and industry responses to human rights, governance, 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 traditional 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 FAQ 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.

Watch the Webinar


CLEE and NRGI will release a full report later this year building on these findings and offering policy recommendations to address key risks.
Contact Ethan Elkind or Patrick Heller for more information.
This initiative is funded through support from the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Notice – Latest updates on COVID-19 policies and resources for the UC Berkeley campus community. — View Details