© Amnesty International

EU: Batteries will need to comply with new human rights and green rules

T&E and Amnesty International welcome MEPs’ support for landmark batteries legislation

Batteries produced or sold in the EU would need to comply with new environmental standards and checks to see if their raw materials are responsibly sourced, according to a draft law backed by the European Parliament. But the rules still need to be signed off by EU governments which want to delay the introduction of recycling targets and due diligence checks by battery-makers.

Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager at Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “This puts Europe firmly on the path to a sustainable zero-emissions future. The batteries that replace the burning of oil will need to be produced with green energy, made from responsibly sourced metals and fully recycled at the end of their life. Europe’s battery factories are being set up today, so any delays to recycling targets and checks on responsibly sourced materials are indefensible.”

Under the draft law, battery-makers will face checks on their supply chains to ensure any environmental or human rights abuses are identified and addressed. Limits on the carbon emissions caused by battery production will reduce their climate impact even further and boost the climate advantage of electric vehicles over combustion engine cars. 

From 2026, key raw materials will need to be recycled at the end of each battery’s life: 90% of nickel, copper and cobalt used and 70% of lithium (up from the paltry 35% proposed by the Commission). This will help secure a critical domestic supply of battery metals and offset the need for new mining.

This is an encouraging step in the right direction by the European Parliament. Batteries are central to the energy transition, and ensuring they are free from human rights abuse and environmental harm must be a top priority for lawmakers in the EU. Respecting frontline and indigenous communities’ rights and livelihoods must be respected at all costs. Having strict due diligence requirements on the extraction and processing of key battery metals can help safeguard these rights, and will set a strong precedent for regulation elsewhere,” said Richard Kent, Researcher on Human Rights and the Energy Transition at Amnesty International.

Respecting frontline and indigenous communities’ rights and livelihoods must be respected at all costs. Having strict due diligence requirements on the extraction and processing of key battery metals can help safeguard these rights, and will set a strong precedent for regulation elsewhere.”

Richard Kent, Researcher on Human Rights and the Energy Transition at Amnesty International

T&E and Amnesty International called on EU Environment Ministers to drop all proposals to delay the due diligence checks and recycling targets when they meet on 17 March. The Parliament and EU governments are expected to finalise the law by the end of June.