Tesla manufactures a range of products that have a positive impact on the environment during their life cycle. Its products in combination with each other lead to the highest results. The more products Tesla sells, the greater its positive impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be.
To be sure, the use phase of Tesla's products avoids more emissions over their lifetime than the company's operations or its supply chain could possibly do. However, in support of its mission, the manufacturer tracks and strives to minimize emissions from its entire value chain, including supply chain, manufacturing processes, sales, service, and delivery activities.
According to the Tesla Impact Report, in 2021 the company began measuring Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions, taking into account the principles and recommendations of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The manufacturer used the methodology of operational control, accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from activities under its control. Tesla acknowledges that overall Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions will increase in absolute terms in the near future as it continues to open new factories. However, it states that its goal is to reduce the intensity of emissions from production as the company pushes the boundaries of sustainable production and improves the efficiency of production and its operations. As part of their commitment to reduce overall emissions over the long term, Tesla signed up for the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) in 2021.
Tesla points out that Scope 3 GHG emissions calculations are highly academic, even those that are widely used and accepted, such as the GHG Protocol. Most companies lack primary data regarding their supply chain, product usage, etc., so most Scope 3 GHG emissions reports are made using overestimated assumptions as well as estimates from databases; unfortunately, this can lead to numbers that are very different from the actual impact. Tesla has begun measuring the two largest categories of emissions within Scope 3 emissions: those from use of the product and its supply chain.
Use of product emissions
Tesla has access to primary data from its more than two million vehicles on the road, and its fleet of solar panels and batteries. The company can therefore calculate its emissions to a much higher level of accuracy than most manufacturers, and thus can develop appropriate emission reduction solutions. It also means that the manufacturer can calculate year by year the use of emissions from products, and does not have to estimate emissions over the lifetime of the vehicle because it has primary data.
Supply chain emissions
Prioritizing the supply chain is critical for Tesla. The manufacturer says it has a lot of work to do to encourage suppliers to provide it with energy and emissions data for reporting purposes. Tesla has already begun to identify which materials and processes in its supply chain are key sources of emissions, helping to prioritize collaborations and projects to eliminate those emissions. Tesla's high level of vertical integration and its relationship with direct suppliers means the company can manage upstream emissions better than most.
100% Renewable Supercharger network
The efficiency of an ICE vehicle does not improve over its lifetime, but only deteriorates. Meanwhile, electric vehicles become cleaner over time as the grid becomes more environmentally friendly. Tesla says it will continue to look for ways to enable its customers to further reduce their emissions outside of its vehicles—with solar and storage products—and with software that helps distinguish when the grid is greener, using more renewable energy such as solar or wind. In 2021, the global Supercharger network was already 100% renewable, which was achieved through a combination of onsite resources and annual renewable matching.
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.