NGOs call on TSMC to strengthen climate commitments

A coalition of NGOs have released timetochipin.org, a website that calls on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker, to reduce its massive carbon footprint.

TSMC is a key supplier to some of the world’s biggest global IT brands, including Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, all of which have committed to net zero supply chain emissions. As a main supplier, TSMC threatens to derail its customers’ climate commitments.

The website was published by Stand.earth, 350 Asia and Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace East Asia Deputy Executive Director Jude Lee said: “TSMC, the world’s largest chipmaker, supplies semiconductors for everything from iPhones to automobiles. However, as the company expands globally, its emissions are rising unchecked and now rival those of a small country. TSMC’s continued reliance on coal and other fossil fuels stands in contrast to the company’s future-oriented public image.

TSMC has fallen behind its peers in the fight against climate change, when it should be an industry leader. TSMC has the potential to purchase and install rooftop solar, and to leverage its influence to accelerate Taiwan’s energy transition. We call on TSMC to target 100% renewable energy worldwide by 2030 and to publish a clear roadmap for achieving this goal.”

Stand.earth Global Climate Campaigns Director Gary Cook said: “TSMC is driving dangerous growth in climate-wrecking emissions. Its clients Apple and Microsoft have made net-zero commitments across their supply chains, including semiconductor manufacturing, so ‘business as usual’ is in direct conflict with the priorities of TSMC’s most influential partners.

TSMC is rapidly expanding its energy-intensive facilities both in Asia and in the US, but currently this expansion is increasing demand for fossil fuels. TSMC’s failure to invest in renewable energy that will decarbonize the grid is not only a climate catastrophe, but also a business risk for TSMC and its most important customers.”  

350.org Asia Regional Director Norly Mercado said: “The just energy transition is going to require both the public and private sector to start putting actions where their promises are. Corporations like TSMC cannot continue their addiction to fossil fuels at the expense of millions of lives on the frontlines of the climate crisis. To truly live up to its claims of environmental leadership, TSMC should invest actively and directly in 100% just and equitable renewable energy.”

Overview

TSMC relies heavily on polluting fossil fuels. Semiconductor manufacturing is extremely energy intensive, and the sector’s emissions are growing fast. In 2021, renewable energy comprised only 9% of TSMC’s total energy usage, far lower than the renewable energy usage rates of the chipmaker’s biggest rivals, Samsung (20%) and Intel (82%).

TSMC is building quickly to keep up with global demand for semiconductors. Electricity consumption by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is on track to grow 267% by 2030, according to a recent Greenpeace East Asia report. 

By 2030, TSMC is on track to consume as much electricity as 5.8 million people, or roughly one fourth of Taiwan’s population. For context, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends a 43% reduction in global emissions between 2019 and 2030.

TSMC is in the process of building fabs in Arizona, US, where its power demands will require enough electricity to power a small city. So far TSMC has invested in unbundled RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) in the US, which have little impact on decarbonizing the grid.

TSMC’s climate pledge is unambitious. The International Energy Agency recommends that advanced economies achieve net-zero electricity emissions by 2035 and that the world’s energy sector reach net zero by 2040. TSMC has committed to achieve 100% renewable energy and net zero by 2050.

Photo credit: iStock/ PhonlamaiPhoto. An engineer wears protective suit in semiconductor manufacturing factory.

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