The world’s third-largest electronics giant claims to be an innovative technology leader but faces global scrutiny on Earth Day over its over-reliance on fossil fuels
More than forty global environmental organisations sent a letter to the Samsung Group, urging the company to stop fuelling climate change and set more ambitious climate measures. The letter was delivered on Earth Day and demands a prompt exit from coal – in both financing and consumption – and to swiftly transition toward renewables. Coal is the single largest contributor to climate change.
The united voice from international environmental groups to Samsung comes amid growing concerns over its laggard adoption of new and clean power technologies and heavy reliance on fossil fuels, despite its claims of being an innovative tech leader. Notably, Samsung’s 100% renewable electricity commitment does not include South Korea and Vietnam, which make up around 80 percent of the company’s electricity consumption, according to a Greenpeace report. These two countries mainly source their energy from fossil fuels.
In the letter, the environmental groups are demanding the Samsung Group to transition to 100 percent renewables for its operation and supply chain in South Korea by 2030. Currently, Samsung is one of the last leading tech companies to not participate in the RE100 initiative.
"Samsung has immense potential to advocate for more renewables in South Korea. It’s time for Samsung to walk the talk on sustainability and work to remove market and regulatory barriers in procuring renewables."
The letter is also urging Samsung to implement concrete coal phase-out policies across all its financial subsidiaries. According to the Global Coal Exit List, Samsung had USD 629 million invested in coal in 2021. Only one of its subsidiaries, Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance, has a coal-exit strategy, however, it falls far behind global standards and the insurer remains the biggest in Korea.
The new IPCC report warns that coal needs to be virtually phased out by 2050 to align with the global 1.5C degree pathway. Beyond that, scientists warn that the world will experience catastrophic climate-related impacts, including extreme weather, declining ecosystem and rising poverty.
The letter ends with a call for Samsung to shift away from biomass, often-dubbed “fake renewable,” in its operations and investment.
While recognized as renewable energy in South Korea, biomass has been found to emit more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than fossil fuels. Biomass is also a driver of deforestation, which is another large source of CO2 emissions.
The engineering arm of Samsung – Samsung C&T – has been expanding its biomass supply chain, including its recent partnership with Japan’s energy company Erex last year to boost biomass supply.
"It is time for companies and governments all over the world to take climate change seriously. Rather than greenwashing their words and their policies, Samsung and other companies must shift away from fossil fuels toward clean and sustainable renewables. The world is depending on them."