Forty-two global organisations have agreed to abide by 10 guiding principles and formed the Global Battery Alliance for creation of a sustainable battery chain by 2030 at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos on January 23.
At the 2020 annual meeting, 42 organisations, including businesses from mining, chemicals, battery, automotive and energy industries, representing annual revenue close to a trillion dollars, along with international organisations and global NGOs have agreed on the 10 guiding principles. These principles are seen as the first step in a responsible, sustainable battery value chain in the Global Battery Alliance’s 'A Vision for a Sustainable Battery Value Chain in 2030'.
Implementing commitments will be based on existing standards such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s due diligence guidance and economically viable considerations for a circular and low carbon economy. The principles include maximising the productivity of batteries, enabling a productive and safe second life use, circular recovery of battery materials, ensuring transparency of greenhouse gas emissions and their progressive reduction, prioritising energy efficiency measures and increasing the use of renewable energy, fostering battery-enabled renewable energy integration, high quality job creation and skills development, eliminating child and forced labour, protecting public health and the environment and supporting responsible trade and anti-corruption practices, local value creation and economic diversification.
The organisations who support the initiative include AB Volvo, Amara Raja Batteries , Audi, BASF, BMW, China EV100, Groupe Renault, Honda, Johnson Matthey, International Lead Association (ILA), Pure Earth, Responsible Battery Coalition, SGS, SK Innovation, SQM, The Faraday Institution, Transport & Environment (T&E), Umicore, the Volkswagen Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The alliance says to realise the full ambition of these principles it will actively seek the endorsement of additional organisations to ensure full participation throughout the battery value chain.
Role of the Global Battery Alliance: Industry view
The WEF says this will guide the development of a global digital battery information disclosure system referred to as the 'Battery Passport', which is designed to enable a transparent value chain, for example, with respect to human rights and the environmental footprint.
Dominic Waughray, MD, World Economic Forum said: “We all need batteries to power the clean revolution. However, we must ensure violations of human rights do not occur anywhere in the value chain, that local communities benefit and that battery production is sustainable. These guiding principles are an important first step to build a value chain that can deliver on this promise while supporting societies and economies at the same time.”
Vijayanand Kumar Samudrala, CEO, Amara Raja Batteries: “Amara Raja is fully committed to support the transition to a carbon neutral energy footprint across the globe and recognises that advanced battery technologies have a critical role to play to enable and accelerate this transition. We are delighted to be part of the Global Battery Alliance efforts to drive the transition and endorses the ‘Principles and Commitments to Realize the 2030 Vision’.”
Hildegard Wortmann, member of the Board of Management, sales and marketing, Audi: “We believe in the power of joint collaboration across all stakeholders in the entire value chain of batteries and therefore encourage others to join the GBA as well. Audi is striving for a reliable 'sustainability performance seal', carried out by robust stakeholder engagement, which stands as a global reference for clean and ethically produced batteries.”
Martin Brudermuller, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF and co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance: “These guiding principles are a milestone for the Global Battery Alliance to promote a sustainable and responsible battery value chain. As a founding member of the alliance, BASF welcomes a joint vision and concrete actions, such as the planned battery passport.”
Liu Xiaoshi, executive deputy secretary-general, China EV100 said: “China EV100 has been committed to conducting research and cross-industry exchanges on the entire value chain and recycling of the battery industry for the past six years. We are willing to work with GBA to help the energy transition and decarbonization of the transportation industry along with the sustainable development of the electric vehicle and battery value chain.”
According to Robert MacLeod, CEO, Johnson Matthey: "Johnson Matthey is very pleased to support the 10 principles of the GBA, which underpin our company’s vision to build a cleaner, healthier world. This a key milestone for the battery community as we align to deliver common objectives that will power a sustainable energy transition in a way that safeguards and benefits the whole supply chain.”
Steve Christensen, executive director, Responsible Battery Coalition: “A key part of sustaining our growing, battery-reliant energy infrastructure is to conserve human and natural resources. We at the Responsible Battery Coalition are proud to join with our fellow members of the Global Battery Alliance in supporting these principles and working together in creating a sustainable, humane and circular battery value chain.”
Ralf Pfitzner, head of Sustainability, Volkswagen Group added that, “At Volkswagen, our sustainability and social responsibility requirements go well beyond production and cover the entire value chain. We do not tolerate any infringements of environmental and social standards – this applies to the entire supply chain. That’s why we support the GBA and are committed to the 10 principles that were agreed today as a building block to safeguard human rights and economic development consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Maria Mendiluce, World Business Council for Sustainable Development reiterated that " WBCSD welcomes the 10 principles for a sustainable value chain that protects human rights and accelerate the transition to carbon neutrality, and will continue to support the Global Battery Alliance members in their action towards the vision for a sustainable battery value chain by 2030."
Commenting on the announcement, Benedikt Sobotka, co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance and CEO of ERG, said: “As we convene for the 50th anniversary Davos meeting, the launch of the 10 key principles will help bring the Alliance one step closer to unlocking the potential of batteries to power sustainable development. We are aiming to ensure that the vast benefits to the global economy never come at the cost of the most vulnerable communities. A key focus for ERG is working with all Alliance members to eradicate child labour within the battery value chain.”