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Hyundai Motor Group

Background

Hyundai Motor Group is a major South Korean automotive company headquartered in Seoul and the second largest corporation in the country after Samsung. It produces passenger and commercial vehicles, including heavy duty trucks and buses, sold in over 190 countries. Hyundai Motor operates the largest auto manufacturing facility in the world in Ulsan, South Korea, which produces around 1.4 million vehicles each year and employs over 30,000 workers.

Campaign Timeline

Campaign Launch, May 2022

Alongside our allies at Greenpeace Korea and Youth4ClimateAction, we called on Hyundai to cancel plans for the LNG power plant, highlighting the climate policy and business risks associated with LNG investments. At the same time, we mobilized 8,860 Action Speaks Louder supporters around the world to email Hyundai executives to express their concerns and urge the company to follow through on its RE100 vows by canceling the LNG plant. 

Joint Statement, May 30, 2022:

Action Speaks Louder, Greenpeace Korea, and Youth4ClimateAction issued a joint statement calling on Hyundai to scrap its plans for the LNG power plant. The joint statement emphasized three key points:

  1. The proposed LNG plant is contrary to RE100, which aims to respond to the climate crisis through the expansion of renewable energy.
  2. Plans for an LNG power plant are not aligned with global climate efforts to rapidly reduce methane. While LNG has been called a ‘transition fuel’ because it emits less carbon dioxide than coal, the main component of natural gas is methane, and a large amount is emitted into the atmosphere during the extraction and transportation processes. The global warming effect caused by methane is about 80 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years.
  3. The LNG power plant carries a significant risk of becoming a stranded asset, given the volatility of LNG prices and the declining cost of renewable energy. 

Problem

On April 25, 2022 Hyundai Motor Group announced that four of its affiliates, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Corporation, Hyundai Mobis, and Hyundai Wia became members of the Climate Group’s RE100, a global initiative of large companies moving to 100% renewable energy.  Hyundai Motor Group’s announcement further specified that it would aim to transition to 100% renewable energy between 2040 and 2050. 

However, just two weeks later, Hyundai Motor declared plans to construct a new LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) power plant to cover the majority of electricity use at its largest production plant in Ulsan, South Korea.

LNG is a fossil fuel that is neither renewable or safe for the climate, and plans for a new LNG power plant contradicts Hyundai Motor’s membership in RE100.

Solution

Given the company’s stated aim to transition to 100% renewable energy, Hyundai Motor should cancel plans for a new LNG power plant in Ulsan and instead expand use of renewable energy in accordance with its membership in RE100.

Hyundai Motor, as the second largest corporation in South Korea, plays a major role in influencing private sector responses to climate change and renewable energy investments domestically.

If Hyundai Motor were to proceed with an LNG power plant it would undermine its membership in RE100 by expanding its own use of fossil fuels. Notably, RE100 expressly aims for member companies to help “accelerate change towards zero carbon electricity grids globally by 2040” and does not consider LNG to be an acceptable form of renewable energy

With respect to Hyundai Motor’s Ulsan facility, it consumes an exceptionally large amount of electricity of 1.29 million megawatt-hours (MWh) per year, underscoring the need for this energy demand to be met with electricity generated from renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

Campaign outcome

Responding to campaign pressure, Hyundai Motor announced on July 4, 2022 that it would cancel plans for the LNG plant in Ulsan, South Korea:

“We decided to cancel the LNG plant construction plan, one of the various measures we internally reviewed to meet the global consensus for climate change.” Furthermore, Hyundai committed to accelerating installation of solar panels at its factories and said any new plants will be 100% compatible with renewable energy starting from the design stage. 

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Read about it in the media


Hyundai Has a Climate Dilemma at One of World’s Top Car Plants

→ Read it here.

Hyundai accused of ‘greenwash’ after u-turn on pledge to use only clean energy

→ Read it here.


Hyundai Motor scraps LNG plant construction plan

→ Read it here.

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