Car industry crashes past climate target amid warnings

The automotive industry is not cutting carbon emissions fast enough and could blow its 1.5-degree climate target by as much as 75 per cent in 2050, new research warns.

The Pathway Report, prepared by consulting firm Kearney, also found swapping petrol vehicles for electric cars would not be enough to meet the goal and the entire car industry needed to make bigger cuts before 2030.

Climate researchers said the findings “should be a stark warning to the car industry” as well as motorists.

The analysis, funded by electric car makers Polestar and Rivian, found the auto industry would need to cut 43 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to meet the United Nation’s 1.5-degree target.

But on its current trajectory, the industry would spend its entire emissions budget by 2035.

The report also warned electric cars would need to increase from six per cent of vehicles globally to 100 per cent by 2032 and electrifying transport would not be enough to meet the target by itself.

It recommended car makers introduce “a firm end date for fossil fuel car sales globally”, increase the amount of renewable energy in the power grid from 39 per cent to 100 per cent by 2033 and cut supply chain emissions by 81 per cent in 2032.

Polestar sustainability head Fredrika Klaren told AAP the report showed the industry could still reach its climate target if it took urgent action.

The company hosted a roundtable about the findings with automakers in late January and Ms Klaren said she hoped other brands would commit to cuts.

“Of the automakers we talked to, none said ‘no, this is not interesting to us’,” she said.

“I was shocked when I first saw the (75 per cent) number. I didn’t expect it to be quite that bad. We’re nearly doubling the emissions that we can emit to stay below 1.5 degrees and this is a very conservative calculation.”

Ms Klaren said achieving the 1.5-degree goal would also rely on supportive government policies and actions from motorists.

“Different countries are at different stages in the maturity process,” she said.

“But when we say we need to go to 100 per cent electric by 2032 that’s globally.”

Electric vehicles made up 3.8 per cent of all new cars sold in Australia in 2022, according to the EV Council – an increase of 86 per cent.

Climate Council senior researcher Carl Tidemann said the study’s findings should serve as a wake-up call in Australia and abroad.

“This trajectory should be a stark warning to the car industry, especially to those manufacturers popular here at home where we remain a dumping ground for their polluting petrol and diesel cars,” he said.

In addition to industry reform, Dr Tidemann said governments should invest more funds in public and active transport to transform “how we get around”.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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