General Motors is committed to publicly reporting on ESG topics on an annual basis, discussing the opportunities and challenges that we encounter as we work to enhance performance and conduct business in the most responsible manner possible. The reporting process not only helps us manage and measure our progress, but also helps us to engage with both internal and external stakeholders around the world.
Our previous report covered calendar year 2019 and was published in July 2020. The editorial content of this report generally covers subject matter for calendar year 2020 and early 2021 and is limited to operations owned and/or operated by GM. In some instances, data has been included for operations in which GM’s interest is through a joint venture. Such data is noted in this report. All metrics related to GM manufacturing and product commitments, as well as workforce and financial data, refer to the calendar year ended December 31, 2020.
Presentation of Content
GM used the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, published by WBCSD and WRI, as a basis for our methodology for publicly reporting GHG.
This report has been prepared according to GRI Standards: Comprehensive Option.
This is the fourth year that GM has reported to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board framework. Our intent is one of continuous improvement as we report to metrics included in the Transportation Standards.
The Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has developed a voluntary, consistent, climate-related financial risk disclosure for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders. The TCFD framework rests on four main tenets. The TCFD table provides sections of this report that address those tenets.
GM has worked with CDP since 2010, when we began tracking carbon emissions and reduction activities through the CDP Climate Change Program. Since 2013, we have reported all 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions and in 2020 received an A- on climate change performance. In addition to the climate change program, we have voluntarily participated in the CDP Water program since 2011 and were named again to the CDP Water Security A- list in 2020.
We also participate in the CDP Supply Chain program, engaging our supply chain for the past seven years in actions to reduce their emissions, mitigate their effects on climate change, address water security and strengthen their overall businesses. We continue to use the information gained from this program to more accurately measure our indirect GHG emissions and water impact and prioritize our climate change risk and water security management within the GM supply chain. Learn more about this initiative. In 2020, GM responded to CDP Forests for the first time, related to timber, cattle and rubber, scoring a C for timber and cattle (rubber is not currently scored). We intend to respond to the full version in 2021.
United Nations Global Compact
We are a signatory to this voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and support UN goals. As part of our annual disclosure, we include an index that aligns report content with the Compact’s Ten Principles.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
We map our material issues to the 17 sustainable development goals and the underlying targets and identify where we have the most opportunity for impact. An index for this exercise is included in the appendix. During 2019, we refreshed our materiality assessment and intend to use its findings to further refine our focus on the UNSDGs.
For 2020, Stantec conducted limited independent assurance of operational management topics such as waste, water, carbon and energy data for global facilities. See Stantec’s full statement of assurance. Due to limited assurance on most material data streams within the report, this review involves only operational management. Neither the GM Board of Directors nor senior management is involved in seeking assurance for the report.
The content of this report and many of our sustainability initiatives are based on the results of a global materiality assessment, a process we undertake every two to three years. The use of “material” or “materiality” in this report is not related to or intended to convey matters or facts that could be deemed “material” to a reasonable investor as referred to under U.S. securities laws or similar requirements of other jurisdictions. A third party, CRI Communications, conducted the assessment in 2019, based on a process outlined in the GRI Technical Protocol.
IDENTIFY: Relevant sustainability topics covered in previous materiality assessments, as well as key industry reports, were reviewed to finalize a list of 37 ESG topics and subtopics.
PRIORITIZE: Two online surveys were deployed to GM employees and external stakeholders globally. Internal respondents were asked to rate the level of impact each topic would have on GM’s business over the next five years, as well as selecting topics that represented the greatest leadership opportunities and greatest business risks for GM. External stakeholders were asked to rate topics based on the level of impact that GM’s management of each topic would have on the world around us, as well as selecting topics that would influence their opinion of GM or decision to invest in GM.
VALIDATE: Based on the survey results, all 37 topics were plotted on a preliminary materiality matrix, which was reviewed by GM’s internal sustainability team in order to validate the relative importance of each topic.
Among the key learnings from this most recent materiality assessment: Climate change-related topics emerged as a key area of concern. For the first time, the market development for EVs and zero emission vehicles (ZEV) emerged as the top-ranked issue. Closely related topics—technological innovation, vehicle fuel economy, CO2 emissions and climate change management—all ranked within the top 10. Vehicle safety and customer trust and loyalty continued to be highly ranked topics, consistent with our 2014 and 2016 assessments.
More so than in past years, we observed a sizeable gap between the concerns of external and internal stakeholders. While internal stakeholders prioritized—and rightly so—issues such as quality management and customer trust and loyalty, external shareholders were more focused on climate change-related topics. We have weighted the responses of both stakeholder groups equally, and the results of that weighting are reflected in the materiality matrix below. While materiality is an important input into our reporting and disclosure strategy, it is not the only consideration. The content of this report also reflects the interests and needs of ESG ratings and rankings, as well as other nonfinancial disclosures. Our goal is for GM’s sustainability report to satisfy the interests of stakeholders through coverage of our most material topics and to discuss other topics that are reflective of our corporate priorities and strategy.
The following topics (listed in alphabetical order) were identified as environmental, social and governance priorities as part of our 2019 materiality assessment, and updated in 2020 based on leadership review. We will conduct a new materiality assessment in 2021.