Corporate Knights this month released its 20th annual Global 100 list. This Toronto-based media and research company focuses on advancing a sustainable, low-carbon economy. As a group, the 2024 Global 100 most sustainable corporations invested 55% of their capital expenditures, research and development, and acquisitions in sustainable practices like clean energy, compared to an average of 17% by large companies (more than $1 billion in revenue) overall. Here’s a look at nine companies in transportation and energy and how their sustainability initiatives are being carried out.
#4 Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) is the high-speed railway of Taiwan consisting of one line that runs approximately 350 km (217 miles) along the west coast, from the capital Taipei to the southern city of Kaohsiung. That happened through a $513.3 billion investment in 1998 by this private company. Sustainability comes through three points: low carbon, low air pollution, high energy features on the trains; strengthening environmental management around the operation route; and adding renewable energy devices at maintenance depots and major stations.
#7 Schneider Electric SE
This French multinational company has a decarbonization program that provides training, consulting, and tools and solutions. That might come through energy and sustainability consulting to optimizing lifecycles of assets, and technology products and services to meet these goals. Schneider Electric helps the top 1,000 suppliers deliver on their climate-positive goal to reduce CO2 emissions by half by 2025. The company had been visible in electric vehicle charging a few years ago.
#13 Clean Harbors Inc.
Clean Harbors, Inc. is an American provider of environmental and industrial services, including hazardous waste disposal for clients that include companies, small waste generators, and federal, state, provincial and local governments — including serving major ports. Safety-Kleen, a Clean Harbor company, is where much of that happens. That includes parts washer technologies; parts-cleaning services with a comprehensive selection of equipment, technology, solvents and chemistries; a nationwide fleet of trucks, tankers, rail-cars and barges that collects used oil from thousands of locations across the U.S, Canada and Puerto Rico; the company’s fleet of over 220 vacuum trucks will pump out liquid, sludge and solids at client facilities, while ensuring proper disposal of their waste through their industry leading service; and recycling and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
#25 XPeng Inc.
Chinese electric vehicle maker XPeng sells most all of its electric sedans and SUVs in China. As of November, XPeng deliveries exceeded 120,000 for the year, which is 11% more than a year ago. The company says that it is China’s first automaker to implement high-level ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) for urban areas in series-produced cars. Its Zhaoqing Plant was recognized as a “Green Plant” by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China. The automaker established a VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) evaluation standard system and process specifications covering the entire vehicle, including parts and materials.
#34 First Solar Inc.
As of 2023, First Solar ranked fourth in a list of largest companies within the U.S. solar industry based on revenue, according to Investopedia. The company is an American manufacturer of solar panels, and a provider of utility-scale PV power plants and supporting services that include finance, construction, maintenance and end-of-life panel recycling. CEO Mark Widmar said in the company Sustainability Report 2023 that the company has set for itself a roadmap to reduce its absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2028 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, relative to 2020. One key element is building its commitment to a circular economy through its next-generation photovoltaic (PV) modules and manufacturing processes. That comes through raw material sourcing to high-value recycling with closed loop semiconductor recovery.
#43 Li Auto Inc.
Li Auto Inc. is a Chinese electric vehicle maker headquartered in Beijing, with manufacturing facilities in Changzhou. Founded by Li Xiang in 2015, the company mainly builds electric vehicles that use range extenders for a power supply. Li Xiang is a Chinese billionaire with other ventures including New York-listed Autohome, an auto news and services portal. Li auto’s current model lineup includes Li MEGA, a high-tech flagship family MPV, Li L9, a six-seat flagship family SUV, Li L8, a six-seat premium family SUV, and Li L7, a five-seat flagship family SUV. The company is proud to have maintained excellent AA MSCI ESG, ratings in recent years, reaching the leader level. This ratings system measures a company’s management of financially relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.
#46 Tesla Inc.
Along with being No. 1 or No. 2 in EV sales worldwide (depending on how you measure it), Tesla is being recognized here for corporate sustainability practices. As part of its Master Plan Part 3, the automaker identified five key areas: 1. Repower the Existing Grid with Renewables, where four US sub-regions (Texas, Pacific, Midwest, Eastern) are modeled to account for sustainable generation and storage. 2. Switch to Electric Vehicles, which are four times more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles due to higher powertrain efficiency. 3. Switch to Heat Pumps — using the appropriate selection of refrigerants and best heat pump technology. 4. Electrify High Temperature Heat Delivery and Hydrogen Production to cost effectively accelerate industrial electrification; and 5. Sustainably Fuel Planes & Boats — where ocean shipping can be electrified by optimizing design speed and routes to enable smaller batteries with more frequent charge stops on long routes.
#55 Samsung SDI Co. Ltd.
Samsung SDI Co., Ltd. is the battery and electronic materials manufacturer division of the South Korean giant. Samsung SDI focuses its business with Energy Solutions and Electronic Materials segment; which includes EV battery packs, which come with prismatic battery cells for automotive applications. Last year, the company said that its top priority was to disseminate ESG management across its supply chains. The company disclosed its Scope 3 emissions, which is the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization — suppliers.
#56 Rivian Automotive Inc.
The startup electric pickup and SUV maker is moving toward transforming its manufacturing plant to 100% renewable energy on an annual basis and over 90% hourly carbon-free electricity by 2030. Its EVs will be charged by 100% renewable energy on Rivian’s charging network. The EV maker will continue to partner with suppliers to meet high sustainability standards. The company wants to make sure that 100% of strategic suppliers meet or exceed its social and environmental standards by 2030. Another goal is working to ensure all Rivian employees experience genuine community, shared values and a sense of belonging, regardless of role, location or personal identity.
And in other news………
Exxon Mobil Corp. continues to fall out of favor with sustainability advocates. The oil giant on Sunday filed a complaint in a Texas court against activist investors seeking to get Exxon to strive to reduce climate emissions. Arjuna Capital, a U.S. activist investment firm, and shareholder activist group Follow This, is leading the investor coalition that’s asking Exxon and other oil majors to adopt tighter climate targets. They want to Exxon to set Scope 3 targets — something that the other four Western oil majors have committed to.
RNG growth: Renewable natural gas (RNG) leaders expect to see more growth in 2024 — after seeing more than 60 projects go online last year. That brought the total number to about 350, according to data collected by the American Biogas Council (ABC), which excludes wastewater treatment plants. ABC also estimates that biogas producers and developers invested about $1.8 billion in projects last year. Growth should be in the 10% to 40% range, and probably on the high end, ABC said.
EV affordability: Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) just launched its Electric Vehicle Affordability Resource Page. It addresses one of the top requests the association gets: to break down how much electric vehicles cost compared to gas vehicles, and what fuel savings actually look like. Visitors get to find out that driving an EV is more affordable than they may think.
NREL and Amazon: The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Amazon, which says that its become the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy worldwide since 2020, are working to modernize greenhouse gas emissions quantification using higher-resolution data and longer-term modeling. The government agency and the corporation are collaborating on a guidance document and new data sets, published by NREL, that will allow corporations to make better-informed decisions around their respective GHG emissions.