Policy ForumRESOURCE POLICY

Global implications of the EU battery regulation

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Science  23 Jul 2021:
Vol. 373, Issue 6553, pp. 384-387
DOI: 10.1126/science.abh1416

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Summary

Transport electrification is a key element of decarbonization strategies; thus, the design, production, manufacture, use, and disposal of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are taking center stage. The environmental, economic, and social consequences of the battery life cycle are high on political agendas, owing to exponential growth in metals extraction; the climate impacts of battery production; and uncertainties in battery end-of-life (EOL) safety, recyclability, and environmental consequences (1) [see figs. S1 to S3 in the supplementary materials]. The European Union (EU) has proposed a new Battery Regulation (2) that intends to ensure sustainability for batteries placed on the EU market (see the figure), developing a robust European battery industry and value chain. The Regulation is very much needed, but, as discussed below, it will have global implications, with perhaps some unintended consequences. If left unaddressed, the Regulation, at worst, could hamper climate change mitigation targets and fall short of its intentions to promote a circular economy and establish a socially acceptable raw material supply chain.

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