2020 was one of the hottest years on record, making it clearer than ever that governments must quickly decarbonize our economies.
Fortunately, an energy transition is already underway and gathering speed. However, this transition carries its own risks of additional environmental harms and the abuse of human rights. Many decarbonization solutions, such as rechargeable batteries, require vast amounts of minerals such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. These minerals are often mined by people whose rights are abused by transnational mining companies and governments and whose lands and livelihoods are put at risk from industrial pollution.
Similarly, people who recycle spent batteries from laptops, cell phones and electric vehicles may be unnecessarily exposed to toxic chemicals in unregulated recycling facilities.
Amnesty International firmly believes that human rights and environmental protections must not be sacrificed to advance climate solutions. At the same time, we cannot ignore the urgency of the climate crisis.
If the energy transition is facilitated by further human exploitation, dispossession, and environmental harm, we will look back on this critical time with regret. A just and truly sustainable energy transition – grounded in human rights – will benefit us all. It is within our grasp.
On February 4, Amnesty International will launch a set of guiding principles for governments and companies to address the human rights and environmental challenges of increasing our reliance on rechargeable batteries. We invite you to join us in calling on Canada to power a just energy transition that leaves no one behind.
Learn more about this campaign and how you can participate here