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Lead the Charge’s annual Leaderboard shows progress on auto supply chains, despite major gaps and continued areas for improvement

Lead the Charge–a global coalition of leading climate, environment, and human rights organizations–released their second annual Auto Supply Chain Leaderboard and report today. The Leaderboard found a surge ahead by American automakers, progress on human rights due diligence and steel decarbonization, along with evidence that EU regulations are having a positive effect on automakers worldwide. 

Specifically, Ford topped the Leaderboard with a score of 42%, surpassing last year’s winner, Mercedes. Tesla achieved the largest score increase, jumping from ninth to third place. However, the report shows major gaps in the automakers’ human rights practices, particularly on Indigenous rights, where no progress was made, even by the highest-scorers such as Ford and Mercedes.  

The Leaderboard analyzes publicly available reporting from 18 of the leading automotive manufacturers in the world. It ranks their efforts to eliminate emissions, environmental harms, and human rights violations from their supply chains. 

These findings come at a crucial time, as leading industry experts call for automakers to disclose and tackle their supply chain emissions as part of their climate strategies. It is now clear that automakers won’t meet their climate goals unless supply chain emissions are also addressed with urgency.

“Ford taking the top spot, partially by leading on workers’ rights, shows us that companies and unions can and must be partners in cleaning up their supply chains.” said Erika Thi Patterson, auto supply chain campaign director at Public Citizen. “There is already a race to the top that is leaving  behind automakers like Toyota, which still lags far behind when it comes to building a clean and equitable supply chain.”

One of the dismal findings in the report was an almost industry-wide inaction on ensuring a just and equitable transition across automotive supply chains. Average scores on the responsible sourcing of transition minerals, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and workers’ rights have risen by only 2%, with 11 out of the 18 automakers remaining at 0% on Indigenous Peoples’ rights. 

“Recognition, respect, and upholding of Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination, operationalized through the full implementation of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), stands as the cornerstone for a truly just and equitable energy transition benefiting all. It is imperative to recognize that any missteps in this transition could potentially inflict harm upon Indigenous Peoples, affecting their livelihoods, cultural connections to ancestral lands, and the biodiversity they have responsibly stewarded for centuries. Said Galina Angarova, Executive Director of Securing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Green Economy (SIRGE) Coalition. In this context, companies must proactively establish comprehensive procedures to identify and prevent any adverse impacts on the rights of Indigenous Peoples across their entire supply chains. Upholding the principles of FPIC ensures that Indigenous communities actively participate in the decision-making processes that directly affect their lives and territories, and fosters a transition that respects their autonomy and well-being.”

Ford’s top ranking was due to its progress on steel and aluminum decarbonization, as well as its industry-leading performance on responsible transition mineral sourcing. Ford’s 86% in the transition minerals category is the highest score of the Leaderboard, besting Tesla and Mercedes which scored 22% and 44%, respectively However, Ford only achieved 42% overall, demonstrating that even the industry leader still has a long way to go in cleaning up its supply chains.  

Tesla’s significant improvements were driven by becoming the first automaker to disclose disaggregated scope 3 emissions for its steel, aluminum, and battery supply chains. The company also made notable progress on the responsible sourcing of transition minerals and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, for which it attained the highest score, although this was only at 26%. 

Additionally, Tesla improved its workers’ rights policies but criticisms of the company’s opposition to collective bargaining rights indicate that it has not yet improved its practices. Nonetheless, the company’s progress demonstrates that rapid improvements on clean and equitable supply chains are achievable. 

There was also notable momentum to decarbonize the steel used in automakers’ vehicles. In 2024, over two-thirds of automakers have taken steps towards green steel, in stark contrast to 2023 when over half had made no steps at all. East Asian automakers are now being left behind in the race towards cleaner steel. The steel industry continues to be one of the highest polluting industries, responsible for 7% to 9% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“This year’s Leaderboard clearly shows that automakers need to take quick and proactive action to secure climate leadership and remain competitive. As major automakers in the U.S. and Europe begin shifting to green steel, South Korea’s Hyundai and Kia risk losing their hard-earned global market share of EVs as they remain heavily reliant on coal-based steel with no concrete plan for decarbonization”, said Heather Lee, Steel Lead at Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC). 

2023 was a good year for government regulation as advances in EU legislation appear to be having an impact on the supply chain practices of automakers. Notable was the improved performance on human rights due diligence by Chinese automakers that want to expand exports to the EU market. Geely, BYD, and GAC went from 0% on human rights and responsible sourcing to scoring on several indicators in the general human rights due diligence and transition minerals sections. Geely is the strongest performer, increasing to 16% in the general human rights due diligence section. As this year progresses, implementation and monitoring will play a key role in ensuring all automakers abide by EU regulations. 

“It was disappointing to see the little progress made by EU automakers, who achieved an average score increase of just 2%. This resulted in North American automakers overtaking their European peers. As European automakers transition to electric vehicles, and traceability rules for battery metals come into force, they need to take more specific steps to clean up their supply chains,” said Cecilia Mattea, Battery and Supply Chains Policy Manager of Transport & Environment.

For more information, contact William Fitzgerald,, +1-650-772-1236


Photo credit: Lenny Kuhne on Unsplash