DEARBORN, MI - Ford Motor Co. announced plans to survey 35 top global suppliers on their energy use and estimated greenhouse gas emissions, in order to better understand the carbon footprint of Ford's supply chain. 

The automaker hopes to use the data to eventually create a broad-based carbon management approach for its supply chain. The 35 suppliers represent close to 30 percent of Ford's $65 billion in annual procurement spending. 

"Suppliers play an important role as we look to reduce our overall carbon footprint and drive more efficiency in an energy constrained world," said Tony Brown, Ford group vice president of global purchasing. "This initiative builds on our leadership in collaborating with suppliers and gives them a way to participate in solving an issue that faces our entire industry." 

The suppliers in the initial request include companies that make commodities such as seats, steering systems, tires and metal components, which require more energy to produce and thus have a larger carbon footprint. While many of these suppliers already measure their greenhouse gas emissions, the project would facilitate collaboration and information sharing that can drive further emissions reductions and help meet future regulatory requirements. 

"Climate change has the potential to affect all parts of our business, and is connected to other important issues -- from water availability and energy security to human rights," said Susan Cischke, group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering. "Understanding the carbon footprint of our supply chain is a crucial part of our comprehensive global strategy to reduce greenhouse gases." 

The data gathered from suppliers will be evaluated using modeling software from PTC InSight. Preliminary work Ford has done with PTC has indicated there are opportunities for both Ford and suppliers to reduce carbon emissions. Any reductions by suppliers would be in addition to Ford's own goal of reducing greenhouse gases 30 percent by 2020 from the company's 2006 model year baseline. 

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Several of Ford's top suppliers are already working to better understand their carbon emissions, including DuPont, TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., Bosch and Johnson Controls. 

Johnson Controls, which supplies seats, interiors, electronics and batteries to Ford, is also working with the Carbon Disclosure Project and has goals in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

"As a company, we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2018, and are doing so through efficient manufacturing processes and the development of eco-friendly products," said Randy Leslie, vice president and general manager of the Ford business unit for Johnson Controls. 

Johnson Controls also has a rating system that enables it to measure the sustainability activity of its own supply base. 

As part of Ford's efforts to create a broad-based carbon management approach for its supply chain, the company will share feedback from its data collection process with World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). 

The two organizations are leading a global collaboration of businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations to develop credible methods for measuring and reporting corporate greenhouse gas emissions. They are currently drafting a new standard to be used to measure indirect or Scope 3 emissions. In tandem, Ford is participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project Supply Chain Program. 

Ford is also working with the Automotive Industry Action Group in developing guidelines for measuring supplier emissions.

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine

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