Greenpeace USA applauds Rivian – the first US automaker to pledge no harm to oceans under electric vehicle production
Yet Labor Concerns Remain Unanswered
February 10, 2022
Electric vehicle (EV) start-up Rivian has become the first US automaker to pledge to keep minerals mined from the deep sea out of their batteries and supply chain. They have also joined a global call for a moratorium on the ill-conceived nascent mining industry that could cause irreversible harm to the world’s oceans.
They join a growing list of automakers and technology companies on the leading edge of the transition to greener energy including Google, Samsung, BMW Group, Volvo Group, and Volkswagen Group that have called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and committed not to source any minerals mined from the seabed. The commitments are supported by an alliance of over 90 international non-governmental organizations, including Greenpeace USA and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), that are united under The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC).
Rivian, which is partly owned by Amazon, is poised to manufacture a fleet of over 100,000 electric delivery vans for the company through 2024 that will help the e-commerce giant decarbonize its logistics fleet.
Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Campaigner Arlo Hemphill said:
“The pledge made by Rivian, as an American startup in the emerging electric vehicle field, is a game-changing one. It shows that those who are shaping the future of the auto industry are no longer willing to accept the old paradigm that technological advancement must come at the expense of our environment.
“As more of these companies make these commitments and support the call of the scientific community for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, we are seeing a real-time dismantling of the business case for the latest destructive extractive industry that corporate interests are trying to unleash. We encourage other US EV automakers to follow Rivian’s lead.”
Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner Ben Smith continued:
“While we welcome this bold pledge for the oceans, Greenpeace USA continues to call on Rivian to engage meaningfully with labor unions and workers to establish a fair, majority sign-up process for employees to decide on union representation.
“Economic and racial justice needs to go hand in hand with environmental sustainability. Rivian, like all emerging leaders in electric vehicle production, must meet the moment of the climate crisis by making clear where they stand.
“That is why we joined 10 leading environmental advocacy groups last November in making public our previously private letter to Rivian, declaring that: “A priority for our movement is ensuring that manufacturing critical to the clean energy economy creates quality jobs where workers have a voice through a union.”
Greenpeace USA advised the SOC Investment Group, a firm that works with the pension funds of over 4 million union workers, on its letter calling on Rivian to conduct its operations with environmental due diligence and transparent human rights when the company went public in 2021.
The deep sea is the largest contiguous habitat for species and ecosystem diversity on Earth. Scientists have warned that damaged habitats in this slow-moving ecosystem are unlikely to recover within human timescales. Mining in this fragile environment could negatively impact those who derive their livelihoods from the ocean and risk disturbing the planet’s biggest carbon sink, one of the most important safeguards remaining against the worsening of the climate crisis.
The International Sea-bed Authority, the multilateral body in charge of both deep-sea mining and the conservation of the deep seabed in international waters, is in a process of deliberation on rules that could see the potentially destructive industry launched in as little as 17 months. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress recently adopted a resolution in support of a moratorium on deep sea mining. Several corporations, civil society groups, parliamentarians, and stakeholders in the fishing sector have also voiced concern and opposition to the industry. French automaker Renault also announced their commitment against DSM yesterday in France.
 The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is an alliance of over 90 NGOs including Greenpeace USA, as well as many other civil society groups who are urging companies, including EV manufacturers, to commit to not using minerals sourced from the deep ocean due to the significant environmental and social risks posed by the potential exploitation of the deep seabed.
Contact: Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, P: 703-342-9226, E: [email protected]