What is happening in Indonesia is part of a recurring global pattern in countries where battery materials are abundant. Local residents in Chile, Argentina, Congo, and elsewhere complain of environmental destruction, and dangerous or exploitative working conditions. The RLS study’s authors argue that it is crucial to look at the material footprint of the EV industry against the promised decrease in carbon emissions. In the Global South, where most of the raw materials for EV batteries are sourced, “the rising demand for electric vehicles is threatening to worsen existing injustices in the extractive industry,” they wrote.
And while these places bear the brunt of the immediate environmental fallout, they are not set to benefit the most from the extraction and manufacturing of rare earth minerals — areas mostly dominated by Chinese businesses.
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