Are EV Batteries Worth the Price?
Out of sight, out. Of mind, environmental destruction and child labour
Sometimes the slightest spark gives me the idea of what to think and write about. I do not know if it is the Christmas doldrums, but I was stuck on what to write about until I saw our globe-trotting Prime Minister making another pronouncement about EVs and quotas.
What Did Trudeau Say?
He decreed that “20% of all new cars, SUVs and trucks sold in Canada, beginning in 2026, must be all-electric or hybrid, which run on a combination of electricity and gas.”
More subsidies, more child labour and environmental destruction to come.
Subsidies are excellent for those who can afford EVs but are a negative reality for those with lower incomes. The have’s - get a nice cheque in their pockets which gives them more money for more things; the poor, what do they get? A lump of coal? We have 4.5 million Canadians living with food insecurity, including 1.4 million children and probably as many living below the energy threshold, “freezing to death,” and the government would instead put money into a luxury item.
And do not get me going on what will happen to climate change, even if Trudeau gave every Canadian an EV for Christmas when the volume of new cars for China and India comes online. They are talking about an increase of more than 700 million cars. Out of sight, Out of Mind.
Where is most of the lithium for all those batteries? The Congo and Chile. The European Parliament estimates that more than 40,000 children are working in mines in the Congo, and Trudeau’s subsidies support this. A picture is worth 1000 words.
But wait a minute. Is this issue as simple as it seems? Do we get all worked up about child labour, get rid of it and then leave the kids to their own devices? Maybe this is the only way the kids and their families can survive. Is there a better way?
I am not, for one microsecond, a supporter of child labour; There has to be a better way. Car manufacturers, like Elon Musk, get to buy the batteries at a lower cost. Those who own the companies that manufacture the batteries have a lower cost and a better margin. And the consumer gets a car at a lower price and a subsidy to boot. The kids and the rest of us who do not form part of this linear model are left out while the wealth is transferred to those richer.
It is not only child labour that the subsidies support; they support environmental destruction. Several years ago, I moved to a foreign country to work in the forest industry—unbelievable contrast in environmental regulations and practices. My first impression was we live in a fish bowl in Canada. I now visit my wife’s home country regularly, and spanning more than 20 years, my impression has not changed. Many people in other countries live much further down on “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”
than we in Canada to even begin to think about environmental protection, climate change and global warming.
Coming to an End
We do not see many things - “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” And sometimes, it is just too challenging to deal with child labour or environmental issues on the other side of the world, like China’s continuing impact on global warming, adding up to 12 new coal-fired plants to their electrical grid.
Again, it is the folks at the bottom of the rung on the ladder that pays the price. Subsidies hit us all, but $1,456 is a lot for a person to ask for a person on a fixed income to anti up.
I am not against EVs to attack climate change impacts, but the EVs should stand on their own and two new hospitals should be built. I appreciate the importance, but there are all sorts of “Out of Sight, Out of Mind issues and where to put our limited financial resources we do not even get to discuss.
Politicians are fast to react to climate change; when will we see some action on fixing our healthcare system? That may be the option most may want.
Best wishes from all of us…
Wayne Drury is CEO of Sustainable Circular Economy, a boutique firm in Vancouver, Canada, that helps businesses and First Nation communities to arrive at environmental solutions that are good for the people, the planet and are sustainable based upon a circular economy lens of reuse, repurpose, and recycle.
 Toronto Sun (Dec. 27, 2022). “Trudeau’s EV sales quotas are unrealistic.” https://torontosun.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-trudeaus-ev-sales-quotas-are-unrealistic (Accessed Dec. 28, 2022)