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Toyota losing the race to build equitable and fossil-free auto supply chains

Toyota’s failure to hold suppliers accountable threatens the climate, communities, and the environment

By Erika Thi Patterson

Would you buy a car if you knew its parts were made by forced labor? Or a car made with materials extracted in a way that resulted in mass deforestation and abuses of Indigenous Peoples’ rights? Most global automakers lack robust supply chain policies and enforcement mechanisms to prevent and remedy these harms. The auto industry’s inaction makes it nearly impossible for consumers to see a clear picture of potential harms to the environment, local communities, and workers that are occurring throughout auto supply chains. 

Toyota has claimed the title as the world’s largest automaker for years, but it’s also earned some less than favorable titles: for two years in a row, Toyota was ranked the “Most Obstructionist Automaker” on climate policies globally and one of the biggest laggards on establishing equitable, sustainable, fossil-free supply chains. 

Last week, Lead the Charge published its second Auto Supply Chain Leaderboard, an analysis that evaluates automakers’ efforts to eliminate emissions, environmental harms, and human rights violations from their supply chains. Toyota was left in the dust by its competitors, placing in the bottom 4 out of 18. 

Demand that Toyota do better today.

Toyota was the only automaker that did not increase its scores between 2023 and 2024 under the environmental and climate categories. Toyota received zero points for reducing emissions and other environmental impacts from its steel and aluminum supply chains. Toyota also scored zero points under the Indigenous rights category and a mere 8 out 100 points in the workers’ rights category, underscoring the automaker’s failure to even adopt basic human rights protections. Toyota’s near-total disregard for the impacts of its supply chain can result in devastating health and environmental harms for the planet, workers, and communities on the frontlines of extraction and processing materials for automakers.

While Toyota is failing in all of the major categories, the automaker that topped the Leaderboard–Ford–only achieved a total score of 42%, showing that even industry leaders need to address significant gaps. 

The table below illustrates how Toyota’s failure to hold its suppliers accountable can result in serious harm to the environment, local communities, and the climate:  

Supply Chain Issue Why Toyota is Failing Why it Matters
Steel and Aluminum Decarbonization Toyota still has not disclosed emissions or set science-based emissions reduction targets for its steel and aluminum supply chains. Until automakers demand that steel and aluminum makers decarbonize, coal pollution from these facilities not only accelerates climate change but also spews toxins into neighboring communities that cause cancer, lung disease, and premature death.
Indigenous Rights Toyota has no policy in place to assess, prevent, and remedy impacts to Indigenous rights in its supply chain. In the U.S. alone, many minerals needed for EVs are located within 35 miles of Indigenous lands, and mineral extraction can lead to significant health harms for people living nearby. As the EV transition drives up demand for lithium, Indigenous communities could face water shortages, corporate and government seizure of Indigenous lands, and ecosystem destruction unless automakers take preventative action today.
Workers’ Rights Toyota’s human rights policy fails to identify and remedy forced labor, child labor, discrimination, harassment, and anti-union activities in its supply chain.  Toyota has allegedly interfered with its workers’ rights to unionize at its U.S. facilities, and it opposed federal legislation that would have expanded EV tax credits to provide an additional $4,500 for EVs assembled in union facilities. Even more appalling, Toyota’s supply chain was linked to China’s Xinjiang region, where the Chinese government is committing human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, including forced labor.

As the world’s largest automaker, Toyota should be leading the industry toward an overhaul of auto supply chains to ensure they are equitable, sustainable, and fossil-free. 

Let Toyota know that it’s getting left in the dust by its competitors. Demand that this auto giant commit to a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles and take concrete steps to eliminate environmental and human rights abuses in its supply chain. 

Join us and Lead the Charge in demanding action from Toyota. 

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