The use of energy by households and businesses is the largest source of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Australia, and the world, must rapidly reduce emissions from energy consumption to ensure a safe climate future.

Electric Vehicle charging

As Australia increases its reliance on renewable energy, and electrified machines, demand for batteries will increase.

The electrification of everything is a net good: if managed carefully it will reduce our overall greenhouse gas emissions, reduce other kinds of harmful pollution and increase the uptake of clean technologies like rooftop solar.

However the battery manufacturing process contains inherent risks which must be managed to avoid environmental and human harm.

The rare-earth minerals used in the construction of batteries have been tied to serious environmental harms as well as labour and community rights violations.

The solution for Australia is to focus on minimising those harms as much as possible.

Greenpeace recommends a three-part approach to managing the externalities involved in a scale-up of battery production and use.

1. Regulate: Government regulated, transparent and verified supply chains for domestically produced and internationally sourced batteries, with clear rules for which products are unacceptable due to ethical and/or environmental factors.

2. Reduce: Support (through public investment) research and development and commercialisation of new kinds of batteries which rely on abundantly available resources, or which significantly reduce mineral inputs.

3. Reuse: Incentive the recycling of batteries through rebates, penalties and regulations to achieve resource recovery rates of: 95 % for cobalt, 95% for copper, 95% for lead, 95% for nickel, and 70% for lithium by 2030.

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