Fund manager claims EV start-up Rivian’s response to human rights falls short

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A union-affiliated pension fund advisor has been pressing Rivian on human rights and environment concerns in the electric vehicle start-up’s battery supply chain ahead of a blockbuster initial public offering, has stated that the company’s response fell short of expectations.

According to Reuters, SOC Investment Group Executive Director Dieter Waizenegger said he was disappointed in the lack of substance in the California-based company’s recent response to earlier concerns the fund manager raised.

“They sent us a lot of words, but it’s really raising a lot of questions and we expect more substance than aspirations,” Waizenegger said in an interview. “It’s particularly lacking on firm commitments to address critical environmental and human rights risks.”

As issues surrounding ESG take on growing importance with investors and fund selectors, automakers have come under pressure to prove that minerals such as lithium and cobalt for their EV batteries are sourced without human rights abuses.

On Friday Rivian, backed by Amazon.com and Ford Motor Co raised the offer price for the shares in its IPO, aiming for a valuation of as much as $65 billion. It now expects to raise nearly $10 billion today (Oct 9).

In an Oct. 29 response to SOC, board member Rose Marcario said Rivian was committed to ethical and sustainable growth in the EV space.

“We have already taken extensive measures to protect the environment and human welfare in the course of our business operations; we have always understood that we must grow our policies as we grow our company; and we are intent on setting new industry standards for human rights and environmental diligence,” Marcario said.

Reuters go on to state that “Marcario cited Rivian’s plan to put 1% of equity in an environmental program aimed at helping address climate change and preserving wildlands and waterways, its intent to be climate neutral by 2032 for all emissions, a promise to release a full impact report in early 2023, a commitment by its battery supplier Samsung SDI not to use deep seabed mining, Rivian’s supplier code of conduct, and more.”

In a letter to Reuters, Waizenegger said Rivian’s supplier code of conduct was not publicly available, its position on deep seabed mining needed to be clarified, the start-up needed to commit to disclosures around its efforts, and the fund manager was concerned Rivian’s board might not be able to effectively oversee efforts in these issues.

Source: Reuters

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