The Senedd has recently held a debate on a motion introduced by Plaid Cymru to support moves towards the electrification of private vehicles and put pressure on the Welsh Government to move towards using electric vehicles in their public fleet. Whilst I am broadly of the view that moves toward electic vehicles and away from petrol and diesel is a good thing, it must also be acknowledged that electrification is not a panasea for the environment.
electric vehicles rely on batteries. Batteries require cobalt, and the vast majority of that is sourced from the Congo—an area rife with conflict. Furthermore, children are exploited to work in the cobalt mines for slave wages, and much of the profits the companies make is used to fund civil war. The term ‘blood batteries’ has now entered the lexicon of those talking about development of electric vehicles, and we must ensure that we’re no part of it. We have to make sure that in our scramble to find a different form of fuel for our cars we don’t end up fuelling conflict, poverty and child labour—however many miles away it is from Wales.