Fueled by the climate crisis, and the resulting goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the production and use of electric vehicles has made significant headway, especially during the last decade. Promising a sustainable form of transportation, EV sales made up almost ten percent of global car sales in 2021, with 6.6 million EVs sold. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates an average of 200 million EV sales by the year 2030. As the auto industry moves to accelerate the electric vehicle transition, there remain problematic and deeply entrenched global supply chains in the industry – with up to 30,000 parts comprising a single car.
The EV transition has been touted as a crucial component for combatting the climate crisis, but, as it stands currently, the EV value chain presents significant environmental and human rights concerns. For example, EV components, such as minerals and metals that compose the EV battery, are often sourced and processed in countries engaged in conflict or with poor human rights records. Additional concerns regarding the reuse and recycling of EV batteries persist as the world transitions to large-scale production and use of EVs.
Building off the Shifting Gears, Part I campaign – which culminated in a report, published in 2020 – IASJ continues to engage with automakers to push them to meet their human rights responsibilities around the energy transition. A sustainable future is only possible if humans, and their rights, are placed at the center of not just the goals themselves, but of the means of achieving such goals.
As representatives of faith-based institutional investors, IASJ sees a moral responsibility and an opportunity to engage with EV automakers – to hold them accountable and to push them to better practices and to respect human rights. While harms brought about by the EV transition are multifaceted and involve a complex confluence of governmental actors, buyers, suppliers, corruption, and conflict, IASJ sees automakers as powerful, influential actors, capable of exerting influence to eliminate the harmful human rights and environmental impacts associated with the EV transition.
IASJ takes an “impacted stakeholder-centered” approach. This means impacted stakeholders, who are those whose rights are being impacted by corporate abuse, drive the focus and the strategy IASJ undertakes in its shareholder advocacy. Through strategic collaboration with its partners and constructive engagement with EV automakers, IASJ hopes to push automakers to respect human rights throughout their value chains. Not just because it is the sustainable thing to do, but also because it is the right thing to do.