Taipei, Taiwan – The world’s top carmakers are generating around 74 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year as the industry fails to decarbonize its steel supply chains, according to a new Greenpeace report.
The environmental advocacy group said in a report that the auto industry relies heavily on steel as a primary manufacturing material, with the top 16 automakers estimated to use 39-65 million tons of steel in 2022.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, will use 6.3 million tons of steel in 2022 alone, followed by Volkswagen with 5.2 million tons and Hyundai-Kia Motors with 5.2 million tons, according to a report released on Thursday.
According to Greenpeace, this dependence is already costing the planet, as large amounts of carbon are emitted in the process, pushing the world’s temperature closer and closer to what climate scientists call the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold disaster.
“The failure of automakers to decarbonize their steel supply chains is leading us to climate catastrophe,” said Liu Wenjie, senior analyst for East Asia at Greenpeace.
“Steel for cars has a huge carbon footprint, but major automakers such as Hyundai, Volkswagen and Toyota have yet to disclose their steel emissions. We need automakers to reduce steel consumption and drive the transition to zero-carbon steelmaking.”
Steel manufacturing produced 573 million tonnes of carbon dioxide last year, roughly the same as Australia’s annual output, and its heavy carbon footprint won’t change without greater involvement from the auto industry, which consumed 16 percent of global steel last year, Liu said. %.
In addition to Toyota, Volkswagen, and Hyundai-Kia, the list of companies assessed by Greenpeace also includes General Motors, Stellantis, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Geely, BMW, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, SAIC, Great Wall Motors, and Mazda.
None of the companies disclose the carbon emissions of their steel use, and only a few disclose their annual steel consumption, meaning the emissions figures are rough estimates.
The environmental watchdog acknowledged that some companies, notably European carmakers, had made efforts to decarbonize their steel supply chains, but said their targets were still modest.
Greenpeace said more was also needed in East Asia, which produces 60 percent of the world’s steel and has few automaker-led initiatives.
“If they are serious about decarbonisation, automakers must halve their steel emissions by 2030. The first step is to disclose steel-related emissions, but unfortunately we haven’t seen that happen yet, said Liu.
“Automakers should also issue green steel procurement commitments, which will send a signal to steelmakers to invest in new technologies. In the long run, automakers must achieve the full supply-side by reducing steel use and fully transitioning to zero carbon steel chain of net zero emissions.”
Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai-Kia and other automakers named in the report did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.