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Indonesia supplies the EV industry with critical battery materials but the sector’s rapid expansion is threatening the rights of Indigenous peoples

In the biodiversity-rich forests of Indonesia lies a metal the world needs to break its reliance on fossil fuels: nickel. 

Nickel is a key component of dominant battery technologies for electric vehicles. It helps to give EVs more miles out of a single charge. 

Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel producer, is actively building out an EV battery industry. It is betting on the rapidly growing sector to help power economic development.

The future of the nickel industry is a key issue in next week’s presidential election. Its expansion has recently drawn scrutiny over its environmental and social impacts. 

In Southeast Sulawesi, the construction of a nickel industrial complex on the Indigenous Mopute people’s traditional land has sparked conflict. 

Communities compelled to leave this tract of forest, where their ancestors are buried, are alleging rights violations and police intimidation. The authorities have kept silent. 

Read the story here

Analysts are warning that the boom in nickel projects is eroding officials’ capacity to robustly examine safeguards. But the choice is not either/or. 

Electric vehicles are a necessary part of the energy transition. But as rights NGOs highlight, the sector has a responsibility not to perpetuate the harmful practices of the extractive industries of the fossil fuel era.

You can read the full story on a specially designed mini-site here. Learn more about our Clean Energy Frontier, our series exploring the supply chains of clean energy technologies, here.

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