Tesla’s Carbon Footprint Is Finally Coming Into Focus, and It’s Bigger Than the Company Ever Let On

Table of Contents
Published on:
April 30, 2023
Updated on:
May 10, 2023

With the release of Tesla’s 2022 Impact Report, the electric car company’s carbon footprint has come to light for the first time. Tesla’s disclosed numbers give the clearest picture of its carbon emissions, which are much bigger than ever reported in the past, causing the company to come under scrutiny for its environmentally hazardous practices. 

Last year, the company revealed only how much greenhouse gas pollution it generated from customers charging their electronic vehicles and its direct operations. Although that amounted to roughly 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, it was not the complete picture as Tesla failed to include their supply chain pollution. This is an important piece of missing information as it makes up a large portion of a company’s carbon footprint. 

Tesla's Supply Chain Emissions

Calculate Your Tesla's Carbon Emissions (Find Your Tesla's Carbon Footprint)

Tesla recently released its Impact Report, which comes with a promise of “a sustainable future is within reach.” Still, the company’s 2022 report contains details of its carbon footprint, which is much larger than anticipated. 

In 2021 Tesla only offered public figures on the company's greenhouse gas emissions generated through direct operations and EV owners charging their vehicles, which amounted to 2.5 million metric tons of CO2. Although the number seems small compared to its competitors, it fails to include supply chain pollution arising from indirect operations, transportation, and production. Therefore, Tesla released only a fraction of their total emissions last year. 

The carbon footprints of a company are often broken down into three scopes. Scope 1 includes direct company emissions, which come from its own vehicles for travel, factories, and brick-and-mortar offices. Scope 2 includes emissions that stem from air conditioning, heating, and electricity usage in company buildings. Scope 3 focuses on the supply chain emissions and extra and indirect emissions from manufacturing and products’ lifecycle emissions. 

Usually, businesses choose to detail only Scope 1 and 2, which are smaller than Scope 3 even when combined. Therefore, a company’s carbon footprint usually appears smaller than it actually is to appear more sustainable. Only when seen as a full picture with the supply chain emissions can a company be deemed environmentally conscious. 

Model 3 Drivers Now Driving 100% Green

In the 2022 report Tesla finally released data and revealed that the first two scopes combined totaled just 610,000 metric tons of CO2. Considering the company's size, it seemed like a palpable figure for consumers and investors. However, the true total is over 31 million tons. Compared to Ford's carbon footprint (337 Million metric tons), Tesla overall carbon footprint can be considered acceptable.

Despite the large amount, it is commendable that Tesla is making its supply chain emissions data available to the public as it offers some much-needed transparency within the industry. It is also important to compare the current values with the ones released last year. Disregarding Scope 3, the company’s Scope 1 and 3 numbers have ridden almost four percent year-over-year. This comes even as Tesla is actively working to make its EVs less carbon-intensive as a part of Part 3 of its Master Plan. 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Tesla’s Master Plan Part 3

Tesla Secret Masterplan #3 Leaking Event - CleanTechnica

The third part of Tesla’s Master Plan was revealed by Elon Musk to be a global effort to eliminate fossil fuel and use renewable energy. This plan was outlined during an investor event held at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texan. 

The third part of this Master Plan included adding renewable power to the company’s existing grid in an effort to produce more electric vehicles, install heat pumps in buildings and homes, and use high-temperature heat delivery and hydrogen for industrial applications.

Musk planned to create a sustainable energy civilization that depended solely on renewable resources. To undertake this program, the EV company projected that it would take $10 trillion in investments. To Musk, this was not a big number when compared to the global economy. 

The CEO claimed that turning to sustainable energy and completely shifting away from using fossil fuels was simple and did not require humans to stop using electricity and destroy natural habitats. One of the ways this was possible, according to Musk, was to expand the world’s energy storage capacity and bring it up to 240TWh. 


With Tesla being more transparent in its 2022 Impact Report, the actual carbon footprint for the EV company has come to light, and it is much larger than the company let on in the past. The report sheds light on the previously concealed supply chain emissions data, which reveals that the company’s emissions are over 31 million tons.

Even Scope 1 and 2 combined have risen approximately 4% since 2021. However, their decision to reveal the actual amount offers some much-needed transparency within the industry. It is a step towards its Master Plan Part 3, which aims to move the company towards using renewable energy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Teslas Have a Lower Carbon Footprint?

Compared to regular gas vehicles, Tesla makes electric vehicles that have a smaller carbon footprint even when the electricity used for charging is accounted for. 

Is Tesla Environmentally Friendly?

Tesla’s Model Y all-wheel drive has achieved 4.0 EPA miles per kWh, which makes it one of the most efficient electrical SUVs. Its emissions per mile are also significantly lower than gas-powered vehicles. 

How Much CO2 Does a Tesla Use?

On average, Tesla produces around 650 pounds of greenhouse gas in the US. Considering Tesla has sold over 90,000 vehicles in the country, the cumulative total is at least a third of a billion pounds in greenhouse gas. 

Is a Tesla Fuel Efficient?

Energy efficiency is a significant advantage when comparing Tesla's and other EVs to gas cars. EVs tend to be more energy-efficient than gas cars, requiring less energy to travel a mile than a gallon of gas.