Car manufacturers are focusing their efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, a recent report suggests that the measures they need to take are drastic.
Cars are among the main contributors to global warming.
Electric car manufacturers Polestar and Rivian published a recent report they commissioned from Kearney highlighting the sector’s progress. In that sense, the report highlights that large companies in this industry must increase their tenacity in their climate efforts. This indicates that the challenges for these firms over the next few years are not few.
Known as the “Pathway” report, it is based on open source data and information. This allows them to model the current trajectory of the industry’s emissions. As such, passenger cars account for more than 15% of the automotive sector’s emissions. These data refer to a global scale, the publication explains.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is pushing for emissions to be reduced by 43% as soon as 2030. Reaching such a decrease would be indispensable to actually achieving long-term climate goals. However, the sector’s performance would put it far off track in that direction, at least in the shortterm.
Thus, the report warns of the need for companies in the area to initiate the necessary work to move in the direction suggested.
The report suggests that automakers should take immediate action
Without urgent action, automakers would be unable to meet modest targets in the fight against climate change, the report says. As a result, it alerts companies in the sector to review their strategies. Otherwise, the budgets for the environmental fight could be exhausted in 2035, that is, halfway.
They explain that the measures to be taken would be aimed at preventing the latter from happening. “A major redirection of resources and focus” could mean returning again to the Paris Agreement path, they stress. With this, the authors recommend swift and clear actions by companies by 2030, and many of them should start immediately.
Foremost among these measures are well-established dates for the transition to electric cars. Many companies have been announcing plans and tentative dates, but the bulk of the industry still lacks a key compass. As such, the report suggests that production capacity should be ramped up and a firm date for ending sales of combustion-powered cars should be implemented.
Some administrations have automotive-related targets that are in line with the report’s approach. For example, in the United Kingdom, sales of fuel-powered cars would end definitively by 2030. In European Union countries, the latest deadline is 2035. Similar limits exist in other developed nations such as the United States, China and Canada.
The weakness of deadlines
The issue with the deadlines for the end of the sale of fossil-fueled cars has an implicit flaw. It is to be taken into consideration that for a century some car manufacturers have been perfecting towards engines powered by petroleum derivatives. The manufacture of electric cars, on the other hand, is completely different, which means that part of the current infrastructure should be discarded for one with which they are less familiar.
This context suggests that these companies are reluctant to discard these complex and costly infrastructures. Add to this the fact that the market for combustion cars will not decrease in demand in the near future, and the chances of continuing to operate are very high. Not all regions of the world have commercial ban deadlines for old cars in sight.
It is precisely in these areas that manufacturers will focus their efforts to bring their models to market and maintain the profitability of their classic infrastructures. In this way, car emissions will continue well beyond the time limits set in the major economies. The markets that will absorb classic cars are by no means small and comprise a huge percentage of the world’s consumer population.
Under these parameters, what the report points out about the efforts to be undertaken by automakers becomes even more important. So far, it is an open secret that companies will send their European infrastructures to other regions, which does not help at all the plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some administrations in developing countries are aware of this problem and want to help. However, the purchasing power of the populations makes the mass adoption of electric vehicles impossible and the creation of the necessary charging infrastructure even more difficult.
Renewable energies in global grids
Another aspect included in the report’s recommendations has to do with the construction of infrastructure for electric cars. This dictates that responsible companies build recharging centers powered by clean energy. This would complete the cycle of truly environmentally friendly cars.
The creation of charging centers is one of the most complex issues for the industry. Apart from the need for more of them, since these cars are frequently unloaded, they also need to be powered by sustainable sources. In short, nothing would be advanced if electric cars are adopted and the charge they receive comes from polluting sources such as gas or coal.
“Electrification of cars alone is not enough to overcome the major problem of greenhouse gas emissions.”
If it is difficult to create a complete charging network, it would be even more difficult to create one powered by clean energies. In parallel, it is emphasized that the industry supply chain must also be decarbonized. This should be done by switching to low-carbon materials and increasing investments to create renewable solutions in the production process.
“The climate crisis is a shared responsibility and we must look beyond exhaust emissions,” said Fredrika Klarén, head of sustainability at Polestar. “This report makes clear the importance of acting now and together. Inaction has a clear cost, but there is also a financial opportunity for innovators who find new answers to the challenges we face,” she added.
He ratified the need for automakers to meet targets and chart new ones, as the report recommends.
“We can win the race against time”
The report becomes an opportunity for large companies to serve as an example for the rest of the sectors. That is the opinion of Anisa Costa, head of sustainability at Rivian, who believes that companies still have time to achieve great things despite the challenge of the short time they have on the horizon.
“Our hope is that this report will lay the groundwork for the automotive industry to help drive progress at the pace and scale we need and, ideally, inspire other industries to do the same,” she said. He said the potential to achieve the goals set out is there and just requires the will and collaboration. “Together, I am confident, we can win the race against time,” she affirmed.
The report celebrates that trends suggest that much capital is flowing into the sustainability sector. However, the central point of the call is that electrification of transport is not enough, but that progress needs to be made on all three fundamental tracks. In a nutshell, it is about transport electrification, sustainable freight infrastructure and clean supply chains.
The report summarizes that automotive companies could worsen the environmental situation if they do not improve the current approach. “Carmakers may be on different paths in terms of branding, design and commercial strategies, and some will not even admit that the way forward is electric,” Klarén lamented.
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