Four out of five major carmakers fail to support COP26 emissions pledge

10 November 2021 by Tanith Allen
blog author

Four of the world’s five largest car manufacturers have not signed a deal to eliminate new car emissions by 2040.

The offending quartet - Volkswagen, Toyota, the Renault-Nissan alliance, and Hyundai-Kia – have not showed their support to the pledge which is to be announced at COP26 today, despite months of pressure from the UK.

By signing the agreement, the signatories have pledged to end the sale of new cars that produce emissions in “leading markets” by 2035, and globally by 2040.

Hundreds of city and regional authorities have signed the deal which covers a quarter of the world’s cars and is backed by manufacturers including Daimler, Ford, General Motors and China’s BYD, as well as governments including Canada and Chile.

China, the world’s largest car market, did not sign, while the US, the second largest, was also absent from the agreement by Tuesday evening. However, individual states including California, New York and Washington backed the deal, as well as cities such as Dallas, Charleston, Atlanta and Seattle. São Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina have also signed the pledge.

LeasePlan, the world’s largest car leasing company, has also signed the agreement, while Uber has also joined, committing to make its entire fleet zero emission by 2030.

Ola Kallenius, Daimler chair, told the Financial Times: “Each company has to make their own choice, but all the colleagues I know are all moving forwards at a very fast pace.

“There are very few countries putting as much money, resources or brain power into the transformation than the German auto industry.”

Mercedes-Benz has already committed to selling only electric cars by 2035 where feasible, and will only launch battery models after 2025, which means backing the deal will cost it very little.

Other automotive supporters such as Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars had also already set out electric plans that fall within the timeline.

Nigel Topping, who represents the UK on climate change at the UN, said: “We are getting to the end of the internal combustion engine, the only question is when.”

Juan Pablo Osornio, head of the Greenpeace delegation at COP26, said: “For this announcement to have credibility all major auto manufacturing countries need to be part of it, including Germany and the US.

“This week is crunch time, and it’s vital leaders send a signal that fossil fuels are on the way out and are no longer a viable investment.”

Truck manufacturers at COP26 including Scania and fleet operators including DHL also pledged to make all new vehicles zero-emission by 2040, in a separate deal. However, despite being supported by the UK, Chile, Turkey and New Zealand, the deal has again lacked the backing of the US government.

Tanith Allen, Director, Infrastructure & Manufacturing, Sustainable Business commented: "Sustainability in manufacturing, particularly in the automotive space is no longer a nice to have - by not investing now, organisations are putting their future businesses at risk. One of the big challenges we've seen within some manufacturers is in the shift of where sustainability sits and how it's governed, primarily being the move from a risk and compliance issue to a function which drives growth and is owned by Innovation.

COP has never been more visible than at this year's event and sustainability increasingly plays a part in the way many people choose to live, travel and consume. Paired with financial incentives linked to policy (such as ULEZ) and disruptive sustainability focused start-ups challenging what is industry best practice, we're expecting 2022 to be a defining year for many automotive businesses in terms of their legacy in sustainability."

Operating globally from our hubs in London, New York and Amsterdam, Acre is supporting the world's leading organisations, along with the most innovative start-ups, to build resilience, adapt and manage the risks involved with taking pragmatic action to tackle climate change. If COP26 has left you feeling inspired to address sustainability and climate change within your business, please contact us at mail@acre.comto learn more about how we can support you.

Tanith leads Acre’s permanent and contract hiring across Infrastructure, Packaging and Professional Services.  Since joining the business, Tanith has developed Acre’s executive consultant platform the Acre Bench, providing flexible support to clients facing some of the most challenging  materiality, strategy and responsible value chain issues in sustainability, and managed Acre’s contract and interim desk before taking on her current market.  Her track record includes placing senior professionals within corporate sustainability with clients such as LyondellBasell, Ball Corporation, easyJet and The Crown Estate, as well as with leading industry bodies.  She is an experienced project manager and holds a Master’s degree from the University of St Andrews. 

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