18 Jan 23

New Battery Passport lets fleets compare environmental impact of EV batteries

Fleet procurement teams that include ESG criteria in their vehicle tenders will soon be able to access an independent Battery Passport that scores the environmental and ethical impact of electric vehicle batteries.

The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) unveiled the Battery Passport today (18 January) at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

The alliance intends the passport to provide vehicle buyers with a whole life assessment of EV batteries, including the ability to identify the best and worst in class.

Audi and Tesla

To mark the launch, Audi and Tesla each published a proof of concept Battery Passport for one of their own EV batteries. The draft passports reveal the materials used, where they were sourced, the greenhouse gases emitted during their production and manufacture, and cover child labour and human rights implications, too.

Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, said: “More sustainable batteries are vital to our efforts to responsibly and successfully shape the shift towards e-mobility. The proof of concept shows that even complex value chains can become transparent – an important step in making battery production more environmentally and socially compatible and strengthening the circular economy.”

Global Battery Alliance

The GBA is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together over 130 manufacturers, mining organisations, NGOs, environmental groups, academics and governments that have united to drive change across the battery value chain.

The alliance says batteries hold the key to unlocking the energy transition to net zero transport, but acknowledges that batteries are also material- and resource-intensive, with inevitable social and environmental impacts throughout the value chain. 

Inga Petersen, Executive Director of the GBA, said: “This proof of concept is an important step towards giving investors, end-consumers and other stakeholders greater confidence in the responsible and sustainable production of EV batteries and the commitment to recycling and circularity.”

Child labour and human rights

The Battery Passport will create a transparent record of all the constituent parts in a battery, enabling eco-focused businesses to verify that their fleet purchasing decisions comply with corporate ESG commitments. These include issues of child labour and human rights violations in the mining of the metals and minerals required to make batteries, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions from the sourcing and processing of raw materials, and the manufacture of batteries.

Jyothish George, Marketing Head of Copper, Cobalt and Zinc at mining giant Glencore, said: “We want to provide our customers with the confidence that the raw materials/minerals for their batteries have been responsibly produced.”

Tesla and cobalt

To create its Battery Passport proof of concept, EV leader Tesla collected environmental and social data points on its cobalt supply chain, a vital ingredient of EV batteries.

Ferdinand Maubrey, Head of Responsible Sourcing, Battery Supply Chain & Battery Minerals, Tesla, said: “While a lot more work needs to be done to cover all relevant areas across battery mineral supply chains, standard reporting across a level playing field certainly has a role to play in the transition towards sustainable energy.”

Batteries are the new oil

Environmental organisations have welcomed the positive impact that the Battery Passport will have on the sustainability and responsible sourcing of the global battery industry.

Julia Poliscanova, T&E's Senior Director for E-mobility, said: “Batteries are the new oil, but to avoid the mistakes of the oil age we must ensure batteries are produced sustainably, their materials sourced responsibly, and the entire supply chain is circular.”

She added that the Battery Passport: “will enable transparent disclosure of key sustainability and human rights data, thus improving transparency and trust across the supply chain.” 

Harmonised world standard

The European Union will make a Battery Passport mandatory by 2026, but the GBA wants to establish a harmonised worldwide standard to make it easier for buyers to make like-for-like comparisons wherever their EVs are manufactured.

Dr. Robert Habeck, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, said: “We believe that global progress in green technologies is most efficient when we rely on globally compatible standards and a level playing field to minimise frictions between different markets in the industries we need to transform.”

Images: Shutterstock and GBA

Authored by: Jonathan Manning