By Piero Facchin

As the EU prepares to officially approve a new regulation to improve the sustainability of batteries used in electric vehicles, the organization SOMO, a Center for Research on Multinational Corporations, has released a powerful set of data visualizations showing the huge increase expected in the so-called gigafactories to produce these power units. These gigantic plants will consume large amounts of non-renewable resources, mainly extracted in the southern countries.

The production capacity of the growing number of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery gigafactories is expected to increase nearly eightfold between 2021 and 2031, primarily in the U.S., the EU and China. Many involve major automakers like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla, whose motivation is to increase fuel efficiency in personal vehicles.

“Electric vehicles are part of the solution to climate change. But the size and volume of the planned production of electric vehicles is not sustainable,” said SOMO expert Alejandro González. “We cannot consume our way to a cleaner, greener future. We need fewer cars, smaller cars and more sustainable public transportation options. This should be at the heart of the EU’s energy transition policy.

“We must not slow down the urgent shift away from fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are part of the solution. But we cannot repeat the mistakes of the fossil fuel era,” González said. “A just energy transition is imperative, but under the current policies of the EU, the U.S. and China, it is out of reach. This must change, and change quickly. We need to reduce dependence on individual cars and travel more sustainably. Moving toward this vision must become the core of public policy, and governments must change their approach—and their budgets—to enable, educate the public, and encourage this paradigm shift.”

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