An Article of the underlines the conclusions of Libreville CBFP Mop 19th Stream 1a of Event: The Electric Vehicle Boom Isn’t All Good News for the Environment ( Lyuba Zarsky)

Analysis of this review underlines the conclusions of Libreville CBFP Mop 19th Stream 1a of Event: Emissions from the mining of minerals needed to manufacture EVs needs to be offset at source if they are to have a net positive impact on climate change. Many of the minerals are going to be coming from the Congo Basin.You may find this review of the potential climate impacts of the fast-growing market for Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the demand for minerals that are needed – particularly for the construction of their batteries...

An electric vehicle charges at a dealership in Wexford, Pa., May 6, 2021 (AP photo by Keith Srakocic)


Electric vehicles are poised to take over the global car market. In China, the world’s largest car market by far, sales of pure electric vehicles nearly doubled year-on-year in May; combined with hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, they more than doubled. Chinese electric vehicles now make up 20 percent of the domestic car market and 40 percent of the global electric vehicle market. At this rate, new car sales in China will be fully electric by 2025.


China dominates not just global demand, but also global supply of the critical components for electric vehicles. In 2020, 76 percent of the world’s lithium-ion batteries were produced there, along with 60 to 80 percent of the separators, anodes, electrolytes and cathodes in them. China also dominates the battery minerals supply chain, including lithium, nickel and rare earths. While its domestic deposits are not large, Chinese companies have invested heavily in overseas mines, such as for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and have collectively built a large refining capacity at home. Chinese companies are responsible for 80 percent of global raw material refining for electric vehicle batteries, including 65 percent of global processing of battery-grade lithium.


In the United States, the world’s second-largest automotive market, electric vehicle sales have been slow and steady for a decade. But things are changing fast. In the first quarter of 2022, electric vehicle sales grew by a whopping 60 percent and now account for close to 6 percent of the total domestic passenger car market. Tesla remains the largest electric vehicle manufacturer, but all the big U.S. car companies have committed billions of dollars to rapidly expand electric vehicle production. GM says it will completely phase out gasoline-powered cars by 2035. Last week, California—the largest car market in the U.S.—announced a ban on sales of gas-powered cars after 2035.


Electric vehicle sales as well as domestic production in the U.S. will get a lift from the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, including a range of consumer and producer tax credits. In a bid to secure supplies and boost U.S. jobs and manufacturing, the IRA aims to build out a domestic electric vehicle supply chain, including mining and processing of critical materials.


There’s no question that the electric vehicle boom will help mitigate global climate change. But the environmental news isn’t all good.

The great environmental benefit of electric vehicles, no matter where they are produced or driven, is that they generate zero tailpipe emissions. That’s a huge plus, given that transportation accounts for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 8 percent in China. In the car-crazy U.S., tailpipe emissions are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 27 percent of the U.S. total. There’s no question, then, that the electric vehicle boom will help mitigate global climate change and improve local air quality to boot.

But the environmental news isn’t all good.


Electric vehicles do generate emissions both when they are recharged and when they are produced. How much depends largely on the local energy mix. If the local grid is powered by coal, oil or natural gas, the climate benefits of eliminating tailpipe emissions shrink. A recent study in Australia found that in the state of Tasmania, which is largely powered by hydro, an electric vehicle reduces transport emissions by 70-77 percent. But the average reduction nationally was a more modest 29-41 percent. Nonetheless, a 2022 study by the research group RMI found that even in U.S. regions with “dirty” grids, the tailpipe-plus-charging emissions of electric vehicles are still lower than gasoline-powered cars.


But the production of electric vehicles, especially their batteries, is a highly energy-intensive business. A single lithium-ion battery pack for a mid-sized electric vehicle weighs 1,000 pounds and contains some 17 pounds of lithium, 77 pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese and 30 pounds of cobalt. To keep it lightweight, the battery case is made of aluminum, one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world. Nearly half of the emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles come from the mining and processing of the critical materials for the battery. The location of the mines matters here, too: The lower the ore quality, the more energy it takes to dig it out and process it.


Based on modeling by the Argonne National Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that with today’s U.S. energy mix, manufacturing an electric vehicle generates 50 percent more emissions than a gasoline-powered car. In China, where coal-generated power makes up 60 percent of the energy grid, the emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles are even higher. In the U.S., electric vehicles are still much cleaner over the whole life cycle of a vehicle—production, use and retirement—compared to gasoline-powered cars, which generate twice as many emissions as electric vehicles. Given the expected huge growth in the electric vehicle market, it’s clear that the national energy sectors must decarbonize in lockstep with sales.


In April 2022, President Joe Biden committed the U.S. to achieving 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2035. The IRA allocates $370 billion to reaching that goal. California has set 2045 as its target for the same goal and is well on its way. China announced in June that 33 percent of its energy would come from renewables by 2035. However, it is still adding coal plants, some of which will power the country’s planned expansion of electric vehicle battery production.


An even more daunting environmental challenge of the electric vehicle boom is that the methods used to obtain critical materials—generally open-pit or underground mining—generate widespread, toxic and long-lasting in situ environmental damage. In open-pit mining, thousands of acres of dirt “overburden” are removed and put in mountainous piles of waste rocks. The exposed ore seams are then dug up and transported in slurries to undergo complex processes to separate out the metal. Residues, called tailings, are typically held in large ponds.


The land, soil and biodiversity lost to an open-pit mine—which can be as much as 3-4 miles long and a mile wide—can be irreversible, including the loss of species. Moreover, the mountains of overburden as well as the tailings contain traces of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, copper and mercury. When rainwater comes into contact with the rocks, it reacts with sulfur to create acidic run-off that dissolves the heavy metals and pollutes surface and groundwater. “Acid mine drainage” can pollute entire watersheds and coastal waters that surround the mine for hundreds of miles—and for generations.


Stories of the long-term, devastating environmental and social impacts of metals mining, as well as the resistance to it, abound in every major mining community around the world, from Argentina to Arizona, from Papua New Guinea to Paiute country, from Chile to China. Typically, the mines are located near poor rural communities, many near or on Indigenous lands. Last week, “From Dreams to Dust”—which documents the ravaging of Tapunggaeya, a once-quiet Indonesian fishing community, by decades of nickel mining—won the 2022 Yale Environment 360 Film Contest. The huge open-pit mines have polluted the community’s drinking supplies, triggered landslides and contaminated coastal waters. The consultancy EY found that social and environmental concerns were the top risks to the mining and metals sector in 2021.


Like nickel, lithium is a metal, and mining it is dirty business. In addition to huge open-pit mines, lithium is extracted by pumping underground water deposits to the surface. The resulting pools of briny liquid are left to evaporate, and lithium is removed from the dried salts that remain. The process typically consumes huge quantities of fresh water, often sourced from wells, streams or aquifers that are also used for farming or drinking water.


Are there alternatives to such dirty mining of the metals, like nickel and lithium, that are necessary for clean electric vehicles?  The jury is still out, but there are four main angles of approach:

Recycling. Only about 1 percent of lithium-ion batteries are currently recycled, compared to 99 percent of lead batteries. But technological innovation and commercial opportunity could drive a big increase as the electric vehicle market explodes.


Regulation. Like the stringent measures put in place to reduce air pollution from coal, strong regulation to protect water and biodiversity will be required for the electric vehicle revolution.


New mining processes. Better ways to mine lithium are emerging, including direct extraction, which uses little water.


Find out more...



Go back

Partners News

31/01/2023: Out now: Corruption Perceptions Index 2022

Today, Transparency International released the latest results of our annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The index ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A blue map of the world against dark background with symbols of conflict, oppression, corruption, justice and people power

[Newsletter] Adaptation Fund: Caps Accomplished Year with Eye to Promising 2023 - Adaptation-Fund

The Adaptation Fund capped off another successful year, providing tangible results on the ground for climate-vulnerable countries and raising more than US$ 230 million in new pledges and contributions in 2022 at the United Nations COP27 climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

Plastic Treaty progress puts spotlight on circular economy - UNEP

When the gavel came down on the resolution to end plastic pollution at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi last March, there were hugs and tears among the delegates. The emotion reflected the importance of this historic milestone: a legally binding global instrument toward ending plastic pollution.

2023: The year of implementation for climate, nature and pollution reduction - UNEP

Speech delivered by: Inger Andersen. For: 160th Resumed meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives. Location: Nairobi, Kenya....The last time we spoke, I was in Montreal at the negotiations of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. My connection with you was, unfortunately, cut short due to technical gremlins. My apologies for that, and my thanks to Sonja for delivering my remarks....

New environmental education guide for Latin America, Caribbean region on action for nature, climate and pollution - UNEP

Quito, 27 January 2023 – A new tool aimed at reinforcing environmental education and was launched today by The Environmental Education Network, an intergovernmental platform of environmental education in Latin America. The Environmental Education Resources Guide  is launched as part of Ecuador’s Environmental Education Week, organized by its Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Global growth forecast to slow to 1.9% in 2023, warn UN economists - UN

Senior UN economists warned on Wednesday that intersecting crises are likely to add further damage to the global economy, with growth set to slow from three per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent this year. This will be one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades, apart from during the 2007-8 financial crisis and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

African Development Bank Group team meet Swiss envoys from West Africa to discuss Africa’s development agenda

Swiss ambassadors meeting in the Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan invited a senior management team from the African Development Bank Group to exchange views on development and cooperation.The envoys held a working luncheon, hosted by the Swiss assistant state secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa, Siri Walt, on Friday 20 January. Ambassador Walt is the head of the Africa Division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.

Working group meets to discuss AU-AfDB study on driving inclusive growth in Africa - AFDB

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank Group have a concluded a technical session on how to conduct an upcoming joint study on driving development in Africa. The goal of the study, titled Key Actions to Drive Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa, is to identify key actions that will allow Africa to rise and remain at a growth level of 7% GDP.

2022 AEC: Accessing clean, affordable energy in Africa is key as the world moves towards energy transition: panelists - AFDB

As the world moves toward energy transition, it is important that Africa’s ongoing challenges with access to clean, affordable and inclusive energy be addressed for the continent to achieve a fair and just energy transition, panelists said during the 2022 African Economic Conference (AEC).

New ambitions on sustainable cooling for COP28 - UN

Abu Dhabi, 16 January 2023 – As the Earth warms at a dangerous pace, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-led Cool Coalition, with the United Arab Emirates’ incoming presidency of COP28, announced the development of a Global Cooling Pledge and a “Cool COP Menu of Actions” that will feature prominently at COP28.  The Menu will be defined over the coming months in close collaboration with partners including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

EU agrees to block beef or soya linked to deforestation - AGRILAND

A new law will ensure that a set of key goods placed on the EU market, such as cattle, beef or soya, will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere in the world. Since the EU is a major economy and consumer of these commodities, this step will help stop a significant share of global deforestation and forest degradation, in turn reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity loss, according to the commission. This major agreement comes just before the start of the Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) which is set to define protection goals for nature for decades to come.

Forest Trends Impact Report 2022

Forest Trends was founded with the mission of putting an economic engine behind nature conservation – the idea being that our economy, our society, and our wellbeing all depend in very real and material ways on healthy natural ecosystems. That idea’s time has come. The world is looking to “nature-based solutions” to combat climate change, mitigate water risks, prevent pandemics, protect biodiversity, support food insecurity, and so on. Forest Trends is fielding many new opportunities at a totally different scale than in the past, and at a much more systemic level.

Fern - New report outlining options for partnerships to accompany the new EU regulation on deforestation-free products

23 January 2023, Fern is launching a report which outlines options for partnerships to accompany the new EU Regulation on deforestation-free products. Partnerships will be an essential part of maximising the Regulation’s impact in decreasing deforestation on the ground. They will also help mitigate risks linked to the Regulation: that it would cause “leakage” of unsustainable production to other consumer markets, or that smallholders would bear the cost of implementation.

Call for inputs from non-Party stakeholders - Global Stocktake and Mitigation Work Programme

Call for inputs for the global Stocktake in 2023 In the run-up to the conclusion of the first global stocktake in COP 28, submissions on views on the approach to the consideration of the outputs component of the first global Stocktake are open until 15 February 2023. Also, submissions for the third technical dialogue, scheduled to be held during the June SB session, are open until 6 March.

One Forest Summit: March 1, 2023

At COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, President Emmanuel Macron and President Ali Bongo announced that a One Forest Summit would be held in Libreville, Gabon, on 1st and 2nd of March, 2023. Tropical forests provide an invaluable service both to local populations and to humanity by offering many resources but also by sequestering carbon and hosting biodiversity hotspots.

Global Synthesis Report on Climate Action 2022

Of previous editions, the Global Synthesis Report is composed of stand-alone analyses that can be read independently, for a more thematic or sectoral reading. Discover in the report: infographics on the evolution indicators of emissions and activities, the existing and emerging trends in the strategies of actors, signals of change in the various sectors, and case studies of exemplary initiatives.

Africa's large palm oil plantation must come to a halt -GREENPEACEAFRICA

Protect the Campo Ma’an national park and stop Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert) from destroying Indigenious Bagyeli people’s and ancestral lands! More than 28 communities call the Campo Ma’an area home. Now, a palm oil company, Cameroun Vert SARL (Camvert), has started clear-cutting these ancestral lands about seven times the size of Dakar illegally.

Bridging the Financing Gap Between Developing Countries and Financiers – NDCPARTNERSHIP

In the aftermath of COP27, where global leaders have gathered for over two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, those of us who regularly engage directly with developing countries know that the path forward is clear. Developing countries are committed to climate-compatible development and ready to implement. However, driving climate action on the ground requires unprecedented finance.  

UN Secretary-General to Convene “Climate Ambition Summit” in 2023 - IISD

UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced he will convene a Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023, to generate “new, tangible and credible climate action” to “accelerate action at the mid-way point” of the SDGs. Going forward, he said he will push for a Climate Solidarity Pact, for all big emitters to “make an extra effort” to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the 1.5°C goal and provide support for those who need it.

COP 15 Events Focus on Sustainable Ocean Management, NbS for Climate Action – IISD

The Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI), a capacity-building programme established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, provides support, advice, and guidance to countries in their efforts to achieve global biodiversity targets in marine and coastal areas. The Initiative, the subject of an event held during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15), achieves these aims through such activities as the SOI Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fishery Bodies and the SOI Training of Trainers programme.

Development Co-operation Partnership Commits to be “Fit” for 2030 Agenda – IISD

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) convened a three-day summit to take stock of the progress in implementing the Principles of Effective Development Co-operation since their endorsement in 2011, and to discuss the future of work. Stakeholders agreed to build on past commitments, achievements, and experiences and to address the “unfinished business of the aid effectiveness agenda.”

Ten criteria for understanding the recognition of and respect for community rights –CIFOR

Seven safeguard principles for REDD+ were adopted at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun in 2010. Two of these principles address participation and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) directly. These principles are meant to be “interpreted” by REDD+ countries using their national legal frameworks, to decide, for example, who is recognized as an IP or LC, and what is meant by “respect” or their “participation”.

WWF and ICRAF announce partnership to restore nature through food systems transformation – CIFOR

Partners call on CBD negotiations to commit to increasing agroecological food production practices. As environmental ministers at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (UNCBD COP15) negotiate an agreement to tackle catastrophic degradation of our planet, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have announced a partnership to accelerate implementation of food-based actions that will help restore nature and limit climate change. The two organisations will partner on major initiatives that support farmers in utilizing the power of natural ecosystems to build healthy and productive food systems that provide enough healthy and nutritious food within planetary boundaries.

Aligning Chad’s Nationally Determined Contribution and National Action Plan to Advance Climate Action – NDCPARTNERSHIP

Chad is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change. Because its economy is based mainly on the primary sector, Chad’s reliance on natural resources makes it particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Take for example the case of Lake Chad, where the water volume has decreased by 90% since the 1960s due to climate change and over-exploitation. Chad’s vulnerability to climate change is further exacerbated by the country’s relatively low level of preparedness when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

2023 - What will it mean for EU work on forests?

In December 2022, the European Union (EU) finally agreed on the text of its long-awaited Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR). For the first time companies selling certain products on the EU market will be punished if they are found to have contributed towards deforestation. This was the final stage in a long and often tortuous journey, in which forests were thrust centre-stage of EU policymaking. 2023 will be another crucial year for the EU and forests, especially since it will be followed by the EU’s ‘cooling off’ period, when no new policies are initiated, in the run-up to the 2024 European elections.

Countries making risky bet on forests and soils to reach net zero - PHYS

New research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) highlights the risks of countries relying on nature-based solutions to achieve net zero. The article summarizes the findings of the study. For example, the study found that once the bulk of emissions have been reduced, countries plan to "cancel out" the leftover difficult-to-decarbonize emissions, such as those from agriculture, by using forests and soils to remove carbon from the atmosphere. However, this may prove risky because forests and soils are also threatened by a range of impacts, such as fire, disease, changes in farming practices, and deforestation.

Stop burning trees to make energy, say 650 scientists before Cop15 biodiversity summit - theguardian

More than 650 scientists are urging world leaders to stop burning trees to make energy because it destroys valuable habitats for wildlife. Bioenergy has “wrongly been deemed ‘carbon neutral’” and many countries are increasingly relying on forest biomass to meet net zero goals, according to the letter, addressed to world leaders including Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen. “The best thing for the climate and biodiversity is to leave forests standing – and biomass energy does the opposite,” it says.

New analysis finds pandemic didn't dampen deforestation - PHYS

This article is giving an introduction to the paper "Has global deforestation accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic?". Analysis of tree cover loss over time was used to determine whether deforestation observed in 2020 deviated from expected trajectories after the first COVID-19 cases were reported; both at the regional level for the Americas, Africa and Asia and at the country level for Brazil, Colombia, Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia.

How Forests Benefit Cities' Water, Health, Climate and Biodiversity - WRI

A growing body of research shows that even forests located far away from urban centers provide tremendous benefits in regulating the global climate, water and biodiversity systems that are essential to people’s health and quality of life. New research led by WRI and Pilot Projects through the Cities4Forests initiative synthesizes the benefits that forests at three scales — inner, nearby and faraway — offer cities. The report provides the scientific imperative for city-led policies, incentives and investments that help conserve, restore and sustainably manage forests at each of these scales. The article outlines the many benefits across four categories that forests provide to cities from the report.

Nature tech can play a vital role in tackling nature loss - weforum

Nature is a vital resource, necessary for our health, livelihoods and well-being. It also accounts for $44 trillion of economic value generation. In addition, nature-based solutions can provide more than one third of the mitigation needed by 2030 to keep climate goals in reach. Nature tech will be vital in helping facilitate and accelerate these solutions, making them valuable tools in tackling climate change.

Controversy over the lifting of the moratorium in the DRC, when Bazaiba throws a spanner in the works

The statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Eve Bazaiba, at the press briefing on Monday 28 November, on the lifting of the moratorium has raised the roof. Like a shockwave, the affirmation of the lifting of the moratorium established by the DRC's sovereignty over its forests in 2002 has provoked strong reactions in public opinion.

SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality, 1-2 December 2022 at NOUBOU International Hotel Douala, Cameroon

The SW4SW Dialogue - Timber Value Chains for Resilience and Carbon Neutrality seeks to identify effective approaches, concrete actions, and actors to be mobilised to make timber value chains, especially those focused on the domestic market, a lever for a forest sector with high environmental, economic and social added value.

Analysis of rights and REDD+ safeguards – CIFOR

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) refers to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). However, not all REDD+ countries have legal systems that build on UNDRIP and few, especially in Africa, have ratified other relevant agreements such as the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

New study finds logged tropical forests are surprisingly vibrant and need protection - Phys

Logging affects many of the world's tropical forests, and such forests are often considered degraded because they have lost vegetation structure, biomass and carbon stocks. But there has rarely been analysis of whether the ecological health and functionality of these ecosystems are similarly degraded. A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford, finds that logged rainforests are treasure-troves of healthy ecological function and should not be written off for oil palm plantations. This article gives some insights into the newly published paper.