“Electric Vehicles are sustainable”
“Electric Vehicles are clean and green”
“Electric Vehicles reduce vehicle pollution”
Well said…..but, are these statements really true?.. Are Electric Vehicles (EVs) really sustainable; clean and green? Let us have a deeper study about this.
More than 4.2 million units of Electric vehicles have been sold in 2021, up by 108% in 2020, and by 198% in 2019 and the demand continues to soar up. These ever-growing numbers are due to the reasons mentioned in the beginning. It is true that EVs reduce vehicle pollution which causes irreversible impact on global emissions; but, there is something that these cars use which are called- BATTERIES. Extreme poverty and child labour have been extensively seen related to the batteries.
EVs use batteries and these batteries are made up of Lithium and Cobalt which are very rare metals. The cobalt keeps the battery stable and allows it to operate safely. It is used in lithium-ion batteries. Cobalt consumes upto 30 kilograms per battery. Cobalt is found all over the world but most of the supply (70%) comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Cobalt is mined in two ways- Industrial (Large scale) and Artisanal (Small scale).
In Small-scale mining, 20-30% of the country’s cobalt is mined. These mines have 2,00,000 miners, out of which 40,000 of them are children; some as young as six years old, according to the Wilson Centre, a US non-partisan policy forum. These children work under inhumane conditions without any masks, gloves; digging with their bare hands and being provided with barely 20 minutes of oxygen at a time for making as little as a dollar.
Cobalt mining is a multibillion-dollar revenue generating industry but none of it reaches the children risking their lives. Many children die trying to earn a single dollar.
There have been many incidents of children dying in Congo while working in these mines. In 2019, some Congolese families sued Tesla for the deaths and injuries of their children. The suit was particularly about a child named John Doe One. The International Rights Advocates (U.S. based human rights, non-profit) on behalf of 14 Congolese families filed a lawsuit. This lawsuit was not just against Tesla, but also against Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, Glencore and Umicore. However, the case was dismissed. It was claimed that Apple, Google Alphabet, Dell and Microsoft have created a false portrayal attempting to prevent the horrific situations of cobalt mining by children. But, anyhow, Tesla shares were down by 0.94% due to this lawsuit and Elon Musk later stated that the company would cut down its use of cobalt in its batteries. Did it?
The next major problem is about Lithium. 75% of the world’s lithium is found in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, famously known as “The Lithium Triangle”; and the major problem concerning here is the water. This Lithium Triangle is one of the driest places and lithium mining is water intensive. Lithium mining consumes 65% of the region’s water and this has led to water shortage.
The next problem is about how clean and green is an EV.
“EVs emit low carbon emission”- This statement has been overstated. In actual, half of the carbon-dioxide emissions emitted in the whole lifetime of an EV, are emitted from the energy used to produce the vehicle itself, during mining and processing of raw materials. The same when compared to a gasoline-powered car accounts to 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. This research shows the reality and being far away from the statement “zero emissions”.
These points should really make you ask yourself… why buy an EV?
Not to know or even to look away from the actual serious facts is the typical weakness of the human nature sometimes. After learning the secrets, you truly have to question yourself… why an EV.., Do we really need an EV at the cost of thousands of children’s lives!! Do we?