Choosing an ethical car
The scoretable gives Ethical Consumer ratings for all the major petrol and diesel car brands in the UK. All the companies on the table have Ethiscores of 8.5 or below. In other words, they are in our ‘heavily criticised’ class. The size of business you need to manufacture a car means that there are no small, niche, ethical producers in this market.
Exhaust-pipe emissions only account for part of a car’s overall carbon footprint, albeit a large part (around 73%). Manufacturing the car, as well as extracting and processing the fuel contribute around 10% and 17% respectively.
|| Global 100 position
|| Change in GHG emissions between 2014 and 2015
Car manufacturers are some of the world’s largest companies and biggest greenhouse gas emitters, which means they bear a particular responsibility to reduce their carbon emissions by the required 2% per year in order to limit climate change to 2° Celsius. But according to a recent report by the Carbon Disclosure Project, very few of them are managing this. The table below shows the eight car manufacturers featured in the report, their change in emissions, and position in the report, best to worst.
We have already seen how companies are performing against two key ethical issues of the moment: their commitments to phase out diesel and their ambitions to convert all their models to electric. In order for companies to have shown a reasonable understanding of their environmental impacts, Ethical Consumer required them to have targets on these commitments. Toyota and Fiat Chrysler were the only two companies not to lose marks, since they both had these and also met the other criteria for Ethical Consumer’s best ranking, such as having their reports independently verified.
All car companies lose marks under Ethical Consumer’s climate change category for their role in selling products that emit CO2. Several companies also lose marks for other activities in the wider group: Honda for example is involved in aviation, and Toyota owns a company which is involved in the oil and gas energy sector.
Pollution and animal rights
The emissions scandal to date has implicated many of the companies on the table and therefore many of them now score worst in the pollution and toxics category. All the companies also pick up additional marks under Pollution and Toxics, and Animal Rights categories for using leather in car interiors.
Workers’ rights in supply chains
Last time we looked at the car industry, all the companies in the report scored a worst rating in Supply Chain Management. This time, one company, Groupe PSA, has received a middle rating. None of the companies’ policies mentioned payment of a living wage or restricting working hours to 48 hours plus 12 hours overtime per week, just as they didn’t when we last looked at the car industry in 2015.
Tax avoidance in the car industry appears to be rife with all but six of the companies – Suzuki, Mazda, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and Toyota – featured in the car report scoring worst for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.
Arms and military supply
Whilst there is now much less state ownership in this sector than in the past, there are still close relations with the military in many countries – this shows up in the Arms and Military Supply column on the tables.