Tesla’s carbon footprint is finally coming into focus, and it’s bigger than the company let on in the past

Tesla released its 2022 Impact report this week, and it paints the clearest picture yet of the electric car company’s carbon footprint. Tesla has released figures for its supply chain emissions for the first time, making its overall carbon footprint much larger than it has reported in the past.

Last year, the company only did disclosed the amount of greenhouse gas pollution generated by its direct operations and by customers charging their electric vehicles. In total, this was equivalent to roughly 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But that missed the big picture since supply chain pollution – considered indirect emissions – often accounts for a significant portion of a company’s carbon footprint.

This year, Tesla finally released data on its supply chain emissions for 2022, which equates to about 30.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. This is a huge change from what the company announced last year.

That’s a huge change from what the company reported last year.

The disclosure really highlights how important it is to account for all of a company’s direct and indirect emissions. This is particularly relevant with a fight brewing in the United States between companies and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the amount of these emissions. must be reported by law.

A company’s carbon footprint is generally divided into three main groups or “scopes”. Scope 1 includes direct emissions from its own factories, offices and vehicles. Scope 2 includes emissions from its electricity consumption, heating and cooling. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions from supply chains and the life cycle of products produced by a company. And there is 15 different emission categories within Scope 3 alone to give an idea of ​​its scope.

It’s a commmon convenient for companies to only share their scope 1 and 2 emissions, which can make their carbon footprint look much smaller than it actually is. Tesla’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions, for example, add just 610,000 metric tons of CO2 in 2022. That’s tiny compared to the company’s indirect Scope 3 emissions.

Last year, the SEC propose rules it would require all public companies to share their scope 1 and 2 emissions. But what caused the most uproar with this announcement was a stipulation that would also require large companies to report their indirect scope 3 emissions in certain cases. Since then, the SEC has delayed finalize the rule, which was supposed to happen in October. And SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said suggests that the final rule might not mandate Scope 3 disclosures after all, alarming some Democratic lawmakers.

Tesla is a prime example of the difference these rules could make. The company has late behind other automakers in sharing details of its greenhouse gas emissions. Ford, for example, garnered “A“grades for its climate change disclosures since 2019, while Tesla got”Fnotes the CDP, an association that assesses the environmental reporting of companies.

Admittedly, Ford’s carbon footprint is much larger than Tesla’s with over 337 million metric tons of CO2. in 2022 (almost all of which are Scope 3 emissions). That’s because Ford sold more than three times as many vehicles as Tesla last year, and because most Ford cars are gas guzzlers. But just because Tesla makes electric vehicles does not mean that the environmental impact of its own operations is insignificant.

Also, Tesla’s pollution seems to be increasing. This is despite the company unveiling the third part of hismaster planin March, which aims to achieve “sustainable energy for all the Earth”.

Those are bold words for a company whose combined Scope 1 and 2 emissions rose nearly 4% last year, even as Tesla made strides to make each of its electric vehicles less carbon-intensive. It’s harder to see what happened with Tesla’s supply chain emissions, as it only revealed those numbers this year. And as the saying goes, it’s hard to manage what you don’t measure.

Leave a Comment