According to environmentalists, Samsung Electronics ’rising carbon emissions and slow reduction in fossil fuel use are undermining the group’s sustainability claims.
Criticism comes when companies are under increasing scrutiny over climate change and concerns about green washing, so that organizations overestimate their environmental commitments and their successes.
“Everyone has ESG initiatives, everyone is talking. . . but we don’t see real tangible changes, ”said Young Sejong, director of Solutions for Our Climate, a Seoul-based non-governmental organization.
Samsung is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer chips, smartphones, electronic screens and devices. The South Korean group said its greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 5 percent over the year to 2020.
The company also depends on fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of its electricity, according to Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group.
The data has raised questions about Samsung’s efforts for climate change despite the group promising that its sites in the United States, Europe and China now use only renewable energy.
Samsung declined to comment.
The company’s challenge for change is highlighted by South Korea and Vietnam, two of its largest manufacturing bases, where energy systems remain dependent on coal.
Samsung has pushed Seoul and Hanoi to accelerate energy market deregulation by inviting investments in renewable energy.
Samsung wants to be able to acquire energy from independent renewable energy generators, bypassing the state’s energy groups that have been slow to move away from coal.
The company sets specific targets for the use of renewable energy in the two countries, but no timetable has been set, highlighting a lack of confidence in significant progress in the short term.
Samsung has also sought opportunities around the world to acquire credits to offset carbon emissions and join other tariff schemes to boost renewable energy. In Brazil and Mexico, for example, the company expects to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025.
But activists said Samsung should put more pressure on governments, given its immense political influence. In South Korea and Vietnam, the group is the largest enterprise employer and contributor to gross national product.
“In view of Samsung’s business scale and the impact on the overall economy of Korea and Vietnam and its commitment to pursuing renewable energy targets in other markets, it has the power to make great strides in Korea. and Vietnam pursuing easier access to renewable energy in both countries, ”Greenpeace said.
Youn said “the real culprits” in South Korea are a state-owned energy group Korea Electric Power Corp. and government ministers for resisting changes in the energy market for years.
Renewable supply in the country is only about 5 percent, although new rules to allow direct power acquisition agreements are being put in place.
“It’s ridiculously low, and that makes it really hard to make any significant renewable energy initiative,” Youn said.
Further undermining the company’s claims, Samsung’s affiliates – along with carmaker units Hyundai, Kepco and other South Korean companies and financial institutions – have for years been at the forefront of the development of coal energy in Vietnam.
“On the one hand they say they want more renewables for their electronics factory, and on the other hand, they are building this useless coal power plant…. We all know that Samsung’s headquarters actually coordinates those decisions,” Youn added. .
Several groups, including Samsung’s financial unit, last year promise to end coal finance.