A report released by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center in London highlights allegations of labor and environmental abuses in Chinese-invested companies involved in mining or processing minerals used in renewable energy.
The report identifies 102 cases of alleged abuses across various stages of mineral usage, emphasizing the need for responsible practices in the renewable energy supply chain to protect human rights and the environment.
The report focuses on nine minerals crucial for high-tech products like solar panels and electric vehicle batteries, including cobalt, copper, lithium, manganese, nickel, zinc, aluminum, chromium, and rare earth elements.
It reveals that Indonesia had the highest number of cases, followed by Peru, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe.
More than two-thirds of the identified cases involved human rights violations, with Indigenous communities being the most affected.
The report emphasizes the importance of addressing labor and environmental standards in the supply chains of these minerals, particularly in regions where abuses are prevalent. It also acknowledges that similar abuses can be found in companies from other countries.
The surge in demand for minerals used in renewable energy technologies has led to a scramble for these resources. The report underscores the need for responsible and sustainable practices throughout the supply chain to ensure the clean energy transition does not harm human rights and the environment, particularly in vulnerable communities.
The authors of the report chose to remain anonymous due to concerns about potential retaliation. They stress the unjust burden placed on marginalized communities affected by climate change and mining activities.
Developing nations, rich in mineral resources, often rely on Chinese investment and expertise, but inadequate regulatory safeguards can lead to environmental degradation and human rights violations.
The report calls for improved safeguards, especially as countries seek to retain more value from their mineral wealth by establishing local infrastructure.
It also highlights the lack of laws in China to regulate the impacts of Chinese businesses overseas and the need for stronger regulations and mandatory measures to ensure responsible business practices.
While the report focuses on Chinese companies, it acknowledges the need for all countries, including major players, to prioritize ethical practices in the renewable energy supply chain. This is crucial for equitable and sustainable development in the transition away from fossil fuels.
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