Will EU back better battery laws?

Batteries produced or sold in the EU would need to comply with new environmental standards and checks to see if their raw materials are responsibly sourced, according to a draft law backed by the European Parliament.

Richard Kent, researcher on human rights and the energy transition at Amnesty International Secretariat, said: “This is an encouraging step in the right direction by the European Parliament. Batteries are central to the energy transition, and ensuring they are free from human rights abuse and environmental harm must be a top priority for lawmakers in the EU. Respecting frontline and indigenous communities’ rights and livelihoods must be respected at all costs. Having strict due diligence requirements on the extraction and processing of key battery metals can help safeguard these rights, and will set a strong precedent for regulation elsewhere.”

However, these rules still need to be signed off by EU governments which currently want to delay the introduction of recycling targets and due diligence checks by battery-makers.

Under the draft law, battery-makers will face checks on their supply chains to ensure any environmental or human rights abuses are identified and addressed. Limits on the carbon emissions caused by battery production will reduce their climate impact even further and boost the climate advantage of electric vehicles over combustion engine cars.

From 2026, key raw materials will need to be recycled at the end of each battery’s life: 90 per cent of nickel, copper and cobalt used and 70 per cent of lithium (up from 35 per cent proposed by the EC).

Amnesty International and T&E have called on EU Environment Ministers to drop all proposals to delay the due diligence checks and recycling targets. The Parliament and EU governments are expected to finalise the law by the end of June.

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