Samsung Electronics received a D-plus grade for its decarbonization efforts by 2022, the lowest rating of all ranked chipmakers, according to a Greenpeace report published on Tuesday.
The South Korean chipmaker ranked behind Intel, which received the highest grade among chipmakers with a C-plus. It also lags behind fellow South Korean chipmaker, SK Hynix and Taiwan’s TSMC.
The report assesses the decarbonization efforts of the top 11 suppliers to the world’s largest consumer brands, from chipmakers to display manufacturers to final assembly contractors. These companies supply major technology companies namely Apple and Samsung, among others. While Samsung is a major player in the smartphone category, the South Korean electronics giant is also one of the world’s largest producers of semiconductor chips that power devices that include mobile phones, laptops, cameras, cars and more. .
The Greenpeace report comes days ahead of the upcoming COP28 summit, where COP28 President Ahmed Al Jaber is urging governments to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 as part of efforts to stop global warming from exceeding at 1.5 degrees Celsius. 2030 is seen as an important timeline that companies must adhere to in order to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius goal within reach.
In recent years, carbon emissions from the consumer technology supply chain have ballooned, along with the rapid growth of the consumer electronics market. The semiconductor industry alone is estimated to emit 86 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, according to Greenpeace, which is more than double Portugal’s annual carbon emissions.
Greenpeace says the majority of the electronics industry’s carbon emissions come from the electronics supply chain – particularly the sourcing of electricity for the manufacture of components and devices. To achieve carbon neutrality, it is important for suppliers in many of the big technology supply chains to adopt clean energy practices while creating and shipping parts, according to the nonprofit.
“It’s encouraging to see that electronics manufacturers are finally recognizing the need for climate action, but progress is uneven and very slow.” Greenpeace said in a statement on Tuesday. “The level of ambition of electronics manufacturers is still far from sufficient to ensure that the global average temperature increase remains within 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Samsung received a low grade for various reasons, namely what Greenpeace says is the lack of a 2030 emissions reduction target, a slow timeline to transition to 100% renewable energy and heavy reliance on low-impact renewable energy sources.
Although Samsung announced its goal of achieving carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy use by 2050, it stopped short of extending that commitment to its supply chain, which is part of the Scope 3 emissions defined by the GHG Protocol. However, Samsung’s renewable energy ratio, or the percentage of renewable energy, has increased by more than 10% in 2022 compared to 2021.
But it’s not just Samsung. The Greenpeace report found emissions from five of the largest electronics manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, Foxconn and Intel, will increase by 2022.
At the end of the supply chain assembly, the worst offender is Foxconn, Apple’s largest contract manufacturer, which also received a D-plus grade. Foxconn reported the highest emissions of all the final assembly companies in the ranking. By 2022, Foxconn’s emissions will surpass Iceland’s annual emissions, the report says.
Apple has long sought to promote itself as an environmentally conscious company, but none of Apple’s suppliers has achieved 100% renewable energy in its own operations, Greenpeace told CNET in September. For its part, the iPhone maker made a commitment to decarbonize its supply chain by 2030. Earlier this year, the company reported that 300 suppliers have already pledged to use clean energy, and it that number has steadily increased over the years. Apple is also actively encouraging other companies to join its Supplier Clean Energy Program, which aims to empower all suppliers with 100% renewable electricity.
Another Apple supplier, Luxshare Precision, received the highest ranking grade for final assembly companies with a C-plus. Greenpeace says that thanks to a promise to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2025. In 2022, it will also get more than 70% of renewable electricity from methods with more effect. However, Luxshare Precision still falls short of the target for 100% renewable energy use by 2030, Greenpeace said.
“It is time for tech suppliers to take the initiative and move to 100% renewable energy by 2030. It is entirely possible for every supplier in this ranking to achieve 100% renewable energy within the decade, but the first step is to set ambitious targets,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Xueying Wu.