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Samsung to invest $5bn under plan to tame emissions

Samsung Electronics Co. will invest 7 trillion won ($5 billion) in green initiatives and call on South Korea to tackle high costs of clean energy as the electronics giant looks to reverse a rise in emissions and zero out direct pollution by mid-century.

The world’s largest memory-chip maker, which has seen its climate footprint swell in recent years as it has expanded energy-intensive manufacturing lines, plans to eliminate Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions. Samsung has not developed goals to reduce Scope 3 pollution like some peers, though intends to set targets in the future.

South Korea’s biggest company also aims to switch overseas factories entirely to renewable electricity within five years, though argues it can’t yet pursue a similar target for its most energy-hungry domestic plants — which account for the majority of production — because of constraints on the availability of clean power in the fossil fuel-reliant nation.

A new strategy announced Thursday includes spending on carbon capture and storage, measures to reduce water consumption and the release of gases during semiconductor manufacturing, work to boost the energy efficiency of its products and improvements to the collection of electronic waste for recycling.

Samsung’s Climate Challenge

Adding energy-hungry semiconductor manufacturing lines has seen the chip maker’s emissions rise

Samsung has long been criticized by investors and activists over a slower approach to climate action than industry peers such as Apple Inc., which said in October it had cut emissions by 40% over the past five years and is pressing suppliers to use only renewable energy.

“Addressing climate risks has been particularly challenging with our complex business portfolio,” Kim Soojin, head of ESG strategy group at Samsung Electronics, said in an interview. The firm’s status as a manufacturer of a wide range of electronics and its extensive supply chains, mean “the environmental pressure on our shoulders has been extremely heavy,” she said.

A new strategy announced Thursday includes spending on carbon capture and storage, measures to reduce water consumption and the release of gases during semiconductor manufacturing, work to boost the energy efficiency of its products and improvements to the collection of electronic waste for recycling. While cutting direct emissions is a priority, Samsung will also consider the use of offsets in voluntary carbon markets, Kim said.

As the biggest electricity user in South Korea, Samsung’s key challenge remains the country’s grid. Fossil fuels accounted for more than 65% of electricity generation in 2021 and plans are being studied to scale back proposals for more renewables as President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government touts a potential longer-term build out of nuclear power. (Bloomberg)

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