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A diverse coalition of leading climate, environment, and human rights organizations announced today the launch of an auto supply chain industry Leaderboard and global campaign calling on automakers to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunity offered by the electric vehicle (EV) transition to clean up their supply chains. The Leaderboard analyzes the publicly available official reporting of 18 of the leading automotive manufacturers in the world, ranking their efforts to eliminate emissions, environmental harms, and human rights violations from their supply chains while supporting workers’ rights.
The Leaderboard found that, while the automotive industry still has a long way to go, action to ensure clean and equitable supply chains is not only possible, but is already underway. The leaderboard ranks Mercedes as leading the charge overall—demonstrating that automakers can take effective action on both emissions and human rights in their supply chains. Ford is leading on human rights, and Volvo is leading the way on clean steel and aluminum. However, even these industry leaders still have a lot of work to do, and many other automakers are lagging far behind. Toyota, the original green leader and now EV laggard, is even further behind on cleaning up its supply chains. And while EV leader Tesla has been taking some positive steps on battery supply chains, it is behind overall. No company scored well on advancing the rights of Indigenous peoples, with two-thirds of automakers scoring 0 percent.
“This Leaderboard gives us the information we need to see which automakers are making progress to rebuild their supply chains for the better and which have a lot more work to do,” said Katherine García, Director of the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign. “Toyota, for example, is failing to ensure its supply chains are environmentally sustainable and respect human rights, and also failing to manufacture EVs at the pace required. There is no time to waste. We need the entire auto industry to advance an equitable and sustainable supply chain, and we will be closely tracking the companies that lead on responsible sourcing, use recycled materials, and slash manufacturing emissions.”
“This new resource and campaign is focused on pushing automakers to examine and improve the full life-cycle of their products to ensure that they are not continuing the harms caused by traditional dirty manufacturing as they transition to electric vehicles,” said Hebah Kassem, Director of Sierra Club’s Living Economy program. “We must ensure that the transition to a clean economy protects the health and human rights of Indigenous communities, of workers, and of fenceline communities overburdened by pollution all along the supply chain.”
This Leaderboard is part of a new global campaign called “Lead The Charge,” which seeks to raise awareness of the human rights, climate, and environmental impacts that occur throughout auto supply chains, focusing in particular on steel, aluminum, and batteries, and to encourage automakers, as they make the transition to EVs, to also radically transform their supply chains to be equitable, sustainable, and 100 percent fossil free.
The transition to EVs is eliminating the biggest source of transportation emissions, the tailpipe. However as the EV transition accelerates, the emissions profile of the auto industry shifts to supply chain emissions. It is clear that automakers won't meet their climate goals unless supply chain emissions are also tackled with urgency. At the same time, the industry must tackle human rights abuses in the mining, refining, and manufacturing in their supply chains. These practices not only harm workers, local communities and Indigenous peoples, but they also degrade local ecosystems and exacerbate the climate crisis.
The coalition's campaign will engage the automotive industry and supply chain decision makers, investors, policy stakeholders, and the public at large. The coalition also plans to liaise with consumers and investors to raise awareness about the issue and build momentum for change.
Lead the Charge is a diverse network of local, national, and global advocacy partners working for an equitable, sustainable, and fossil-free auto supply chain. Organizations that have contributed to its development include Cultural Survival, Earthworks, First Peoples Worldwide, Industrious Labs, Investor Advocates for Social Justice, Mighty Earth, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Solutions for our Climate (SFOC), Transport and Environment (T&E), The Sunrise Project and others.
Lead the Charge Leaderboard key findings:
- Mercedes leads the charge with many of the best human rights policies and practices and some of the more comprehensive mapping of its transition minerals supply chain.
- Volvo is the stand-out steel and aluminum leader and overall on fossil-free and environmentally sustainable supply chains—but disappointingly came out lower on human rights, including insufficient attention to workers’ rights and no reference to Indigenous rights at all.
- Ford shows that affordable automakers can do it too, ranking top on human rights overall, principally due to its scores on human rights due diligence, responsible sourcing of transition minerals, and worker rights.
- Toyota, the former green darling and now biggest EV laggard, is way behind on its supply chain too. Toyota’s supply chain targets and claims seem token at best, and as the lowest ranked automaker for their climate lobbying record by InfluenceMap, it gets dragged down even more.
- Tesla, the original and still EV leader, has some problems piling up. It already has new competitors snapping at its heels, a fluctuating stock price, investor discontent, and SEC and worker rights investigations—but they also have significant gaps in disclosure and action on fossil-free and environmentally sustainable supply chains.
- Warren Buffet-backed BYD and #2 EV maker, despite their vertical integration, is also far behind. With its extensive overseas market ambitions, BYD is quickly grabbing market share but the further BYD reaches, the more it will be exposed to new regulations and expectations, particularly in Europe.
- Hyundai-Kia, now the third-largest automaker in the world and snapping up EV market share, makes sustainable material claims but misses the bigger picture—and opportunity. Sadly, despite slightly outperforming EV leader Tesla in some areas, Hyundai-Kia is trailing overall and has a host of supply chain issues bubbling up, including child labor at suppliers and a subsidiary in the U.S., and air pollution from steel manufacturing in Korea.
- Lack of disclosure from Chinese automakers meant they scored very low overall—but Geely shows a glimmer of what could be on fossil-free and environmentally sustainable supply chains. It is the leader among East Asian automakers on fossil-free and environmentally responsible supply chains, on which it also outperforms several competitors in Europe and the U.S.
- Importantly, while there is some movement by incumbents, like Mercedes and GM, and EV leader Tesla, automakers across the board are falling far short on Indigenous rights. GM was the company with the highest score, but scored only 12 percent. With a new era of industrial expansion underway, respecting Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is more important than ever, given how many transition minerals are located on or near Indigenous lands.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.