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Electric Cars Running on Child Labour



(NC) Drivers are increasingly switching over to battery-powered cars, which is a great step in the battle against climate change. But at what cost? Consumers of these vehicles should ask the manufacturers for details on how “clean” their batteries really are.

The batteries that run these vehicles require cobalt and lithium — the same ingredients found in our laptops, smart phones and other gadgets. But these two elements are in short supply and when found, are often extracted using cheap child labour. Some workers are as young as seven, especially in countries like the Congo where more than half the world’s cobalt is found.

“Our research shows that there is a significant risk of cobalt mined by children and adults in appalling conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo ending up in the batteries of electric cars,” says Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty International.

Drivers will want to know that their new cars are not linked to the suffering of child labourers in the DRC, but there is a worrying lack of transparency across the car manufacturing industry, with many leading names failing to disclose information about their cobalt supply chains.

“With car makers in the spotlight today, we are calling on them to make public the steps they are taking to ensure their supply chains are not tainted by human rights abuses, so that consumers’ minds can be put at rest,” says Dummett.