The future’s booming demand for batteries forges new global alliance

17 Apr 2019

A new alliance aims to ensure that the booming demand for batteries supports sustainable development.

The impact.

A circular and responsible battery value chain is one of the major drivers to realize the 2°C Paris Agreement goal in the transport and power sectors, setting course towards achieving the 1.5°C goal if complemented with other technologies and collaborative efforts.

Batteries could enable 30% of the required reductions in carbon emissions in the transport and power sectors, provide 600 million people with access to electricity, as well as create 10 million safe and sustainable jobs around the world. To realise this potential, the battery value chain will have to expand by 19 times over 10 years.

Significant innovations are needed in the supply chain to safeguard workers, eradicate child labour, and pollution as well as unlock innovation for green energy storage. In these efforts to achieve an inclusive and innovative battery value chain that meets global needs the World Economic Forum has convened Global Battery Alliance.

“We need to develop a sustainable, circular and low carbon value chain for batteries to contribute to the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But this task can only be achieved by effective cooperation between businesses, international organizations, governments and civil society.”

Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors at BASF and Co-Chair of the Global Battery Alliance

What’s the challenge?

The challenges with regard to batteries are twofold: how can the deployment of batteries be accelerated and how can these batteries be produced responsibly and sustainably?

To accelerate deployment, more investment needs to be attracted along the entire value chain as well as into application infrastructure including charging infrastructure. Batteries also need to become more affordable through lower production costs, higher utilization and improved business cases for end users.

To produce these batteries responsibly and sustainably means lowering emissions, eliminating human rights violations, ensuring safe working conditions across the value chain, and improving repurposing and recycling. For example, the extraction of the raw materials needed for batteries have been linked to dangerous working conditions, child labour, poverty and other social and environmental concerns. Battery production is also linked to a high carbon footprint and the lifecycle impacts depend on the carbon balance of the energy mix in batteries.

Standards and regulation are not in place to make repurposing and recycling batteries at the end of their life cost effective. This undermines the contribution batteries make to mitigating climate change.

Our approach.

Action is required today to develop a sustainable backbone of the energy and transport systems of tomorrow.

The World Economic Forum launched the Global Battery Alliance at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York in September 2017.

The Alliance connects leading businesses from the entire battery value chain with governments, international organizations and NGOs to concretely act on refining and reimagining-the battery value chain needed to power sustainable development. Under the Alliance’s framework, businesses from diverse sectors including technology, mining, electronics, automotive and energy engage directly with international organizations and NGOs including UNICEF, OECD and the World Bank.

The Global Battery Alliance is guided by multiple Forum Platforms including Shaping the Future of Global Public Goods, Shaping the Future of Mobility and Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials.

How can you get involved?

The World Economic Forum is inviting members and partners to join the Global Battery Alliance. This global collaboration platform will catalyse and accelerate action towards a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and innovative battery value chain to power the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Join us and help us shape an innovative battery value chain.

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