Tesla’s emissions story

The untold story of Tesla's carbon emissions

A letter to the press from Jonathan Harris, Chief Analyst at Engaged Tracking

London, 27th June 2018 

It has been great to see the enthusiastic response to the article inspired by Engaged Tracking’s research that was in the most recent Sunday Times.


Engaged Tracking’s question for Tesla, and Elon Musk, is: having led on accelerating the uptake of electric and AI-enabled cars, are you going to lead on environmental disclosure too? Or at least join the public debate?


We believe electric vehicles have an instrumental role in driving the transition to a low carbon economy, from all companies, and we look forward to a future dominated by electric vehicles. This will certainly make it easier to live and breathe in the world’s major cities, especially in London where we are based.


To enable companies to be fairly and accurately compared it is vital that all companies choose to report their climate-related metrics. In particular their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Such disclosure is set to become the new normal under the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) led by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.


It is important to consider the whole life cycle of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are associated with any vehicle. This includes what are known as ‘Scope 3’ emissions – emissions that are only indirectly related to the manufacturer. For example, energy-related emissions from fuel combustion or the generation of electricity (which can be avoided by using renewable sources) as well as the emissions generated by the suppliers of the vehicle’s components. Scope 3 emissions are important for manufacturers to monitor and report because they typically represent the majority of the emissions associated with a vehicle over its life cycle – generally 86% or more.

Engaged Tracking calls on all auto manufacturers to keep improving their disclosures and to make sure that they are in alignment with the TCFD recommendations. Most well-known manufacturers already disclose all 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions. You can see our current rating of the disclosure quality of different companies online at https://www.engagedtracking.com/carbon-rankings/. We hope Tesla continues to lead the way to a greener economy in a transparent and publicly-accountable manner.


Jonathan Harris


Following the publication of the article in The Sunday Times, this story was picked up by a number of papers internationally, including:


Aktuell Hallbarhet – ‘Striking that Tesla does not report its emissions’


Di Hallbart Naringsliv – ‘Report, Tesla’s climate report: Like a watermelon, green on the outside and red on the inside. Thus, Tesla is described by the British analyst Engaged Tracking, which in a new analysis claims that the US car company’s climate performance is in stark contrast to its zero-emission profile.


Actualidad RT – ‘Not so green: Tesla cars could generate as much CO2 as conventional vehicles’


Daily Mail – ‘Electric Teslas may be no greener than petrol and diesel cars despite being marketed as the world’s most environmentally friendly vehicles’


Malaysian Digest – Teslas May Produce As Much CO2 As Gasoline Powered Cars’


Earth – ‘Electric Teslas are not as green when it comes to their full life’


IOL – ‘Are electric cars really ‘greener’ than petrol models?


Wen Wei Po – ‘Surprising Tesla Charges for Production Rechargeable Emissions’


GAZA – ‘Eternal Dispute, Which Car Cleaner: Tesla Model S or Audi A6?’


Auto Evolution – ‘Tesla cars aren’t really as green as you thought’


Auto Times News – ‘Tesla were not environmentally friendly in comparison with conventional cars’


Daily Caller – ‘Research firm: Tesla cars are just as dirty as petrol and diesel’


Russia Today – ‘Teslas may produce as much CO2 as gasoline powered cars’


Green on the outside, red in the middle: the untold story of Tesla’s carbon emissions 

London, 25th June 2018 

As the pathfinding developer of electric cars, Tesla isn’t shy about brandishing its green credentials. The Company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry – warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

However – unlike its older, “dirtier” counterparts in the automobile industry, many of whose stock market valuations it has long since overtaken – Tesla doesn’t report its greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, Tesla does not even acknowledge climate change as a current business issue in its company reporting.

Already a company beset by corporate governance doubts, Tesla trails behind the more traditional carmakers when it comes to monitoring and managing ESG-related risks. Investors need robust, comparable data and Tesla remains opaque.

Engaged Tracking has estimated Tesla’s emissions based on industry benchmarks and the published energy consumption levels of Tesla’s cars. Its findings follow industry norms by using “emissions intensity” – in other words, the amount of carbon emitted by a company for every dollar of revenue it earns – as their fundamental unit of measure. Engaged Tracking’s analysis across each category of emissions shows that:

– Tesla has an estimated 13% higher emissions intensity than BMW, its closest “fuel-burning” rival. BMW produced almost 2 million vehicles in 2017, 20 times that of Tesla’s 100,000 vehicles in the same year. But its net carbon footprint is only 13 times greater. BMW also has revenues that are 15 times higher than Tesla’s.

– Tesla has emissions intensity more than 70% higher than Mercedes, in an even greater disparity with a supposedly “traditional” competitor in the market for luxury cars (see figure 1).

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Green car giant Tesla ‘no cleaner than petrol rivals’

London, 24th June 2018  – Original article from The Sunday Times

Musk: co-founder of Tesla sent roadster into space

Tesla electric cars, marketed as being among the planet’s greenest vehicles, may be behind the production of just as much greenhouse gas as their petrol and diesel equivalents, according to energy analysts.

They have calculated the amount of greenhouse gas generated in building Tesla’s luxury cars and added this to the CO2 from the power stations that produce electricity to charge them. This was compared with the emissions from making and running normal cars.

“Teslas are not cleaner to run than the average car in the UK,” said Jonathan Harris, of Engaged Tracking, a London-based company that analyses the sustainability and “greenness” of firms for potential investors.

“The annual emissions of a UK car is 1.5 tons of CO2, based on an average of 7,800 miles a year. Both the Tesla Model S vehicles we analysed have the same emissions [as an ordinary petrol car] of 1.5 tons of CO2 per year.”

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