Are electric vehicles — or “green cars” — the way of the future? Or is there a risk of slavery in their supply chains?
A British risk analysis firm, Verisk Maplecroft, explained recently to Thomson Reuters Foundation that electric vehicle producers need to investigate labor conditions as they “cast a wider net to source raw materials ranging from rubber to aluminium and mica needed for the 30,000 or so components in each car.”
“The risks associated with lithium-ion batteries were of particular concern. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the leading global producer of cobalt used in these batteries, but has faced global criticism for human rights abuses. The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) estimates 40,000 children work in the warn-torn central African nation’s cobalt mines in dire conditions.”
“This should provide an instant red flag for the industry operators who will increasingly face brand damage or regulatory penalties from the slew of emerging legislation addressing supply chain issues,” said Maplecroft researcher Sabo-Walsh.
The demand for electric cars is likely to rise as governments move to cut carbon emissions. Authorities in Paris look unveil a strategy to banish all petrol/diesel-fueled cars by 2030. Britain has said that by 2040, it would ban new petrol/diesel cars and vans.
As this market shift occurs, Maplecroft says that green car manufacturers will need to “ensure every individual component required for the manufacture of their vehicles is ethically sourced and as untarnished as a new vehicle rolling off the production line.”