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Automakers are the largest consumer globally of batteries and many of the minerals needed to produce them, including lithium and cobalt. The auto industry is also a major global consumer of other battery minerals such as nickel. It therefore has an opportunity to use its outsized leverage to clean up the emissions and wider environmental impacts of battery supply chains, from mining to manufacturing. 

This means taking actions at the level of battery manufacturing but also, since how battery materials are produced and sourced can have a significant impact on the overall carbon footprint of a battery and can also cause other negative environmental impacts, at the level of mineral extraction and refining. 

What can automakers do?

At the level of battery manufacturing, automakers can: 

Automakers should also use their outsized leverage in global battery supply chains to reduce the emissions and broader impacts of battery mineral extraction and refining by: 

  • Undertaking equity investments, joint ventures, offtake agreements and other contractual agreements with suppliers to catalyze investment in and production of zero-carbon or, at the very least, low-carbon extraction and refining technologies. 
  • Implementing stringent environmental and human rights due diligence requirements for their suppliers to ensure that extraction of these minerals do not cause other negative environmental and human rights impacts.