Yesterday marked a milestone on the planet of company sustainability, prompting a flood of reward from environmentalists.
Then got here the criticism.
At situation is Daimler AG’s announcement that it plans to make its passenger fleet carbon impartial by the tip of 2039. It appeared to mark essentially the most bold dedication of any automaker to clamp down on planet-warming emissions (Climatewire, Could 13).
“To us the Paris Agreement is more than an obligation–it’s our conviction. And we have set a clear course to help prevent further acceleration of climate change,” Ola Kallenius, the incoming CEO of the German automaker, mentioned in a weblog put up yesterday.
The information from the proprietor of Mercedes-Benz drew swift reward from greens, who famous that transportation is now the biggest supply of emissions in america.
“Today’s announcement is a new start for the automotive industry to take on its full responsibility in tackling climate change,” Helen Clarkson, CEO of the nonprofit Local weather Group, mentioned in an announcement yesterday.
However because the day wore on, greens started to level out some perceived flaws with the corporate’s pledge to slash emissions.
For one factor, Daimler’s dedication hinges on 2039, whereas a current report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change warned that the world has till 2030 to stem catastrophic local weather change.
Specifically, the IPCC report referred to as for slicing greenhouse gasoline emissions 45% from 2010 ranges by 2030 to avert the worst impacts of worldwide warming, together with extra excessive drought, wildfires and meals shortages for doubtlessly lots of of hundreds of thousands of individuals.
“I think it’s really positive that they’re setting a goal. The majority of automakers have not set similar goals. But at the same time, it’s important to keep the context in mind in terms of where we need to go. The IPCC report calls for a 45% reduction by 2030,” mentioned Carol Lee Rawn, senior director for transportation with Ceres, a nonprofit that works with companies and traders to advertise sustainability.
Madeline Web page, clear vehicles marketing campaign coordinator with Public Citizen, mentioned she additionally would have favored to see Daimler present a quicker timeline.
“Every week we get even more and more urgent warnings about climate change,” Web page mentioned. “I think to confront that threat, we need to get to zero-carbon emissions as soon as possible across sectors.”
As well as, Daimler did not make clear whether or not its dedication applies to the autos themselves or whether or not it extends to their life-cycle carbon emissions.
That is an necessary distinction. The previous implies that all Daimler autos can be zero emission by 2039, whether or not they have been electrical or powered by hydrogen gasoline cells. The latter implies that Daimler would proceed to provide gasoline-powered vehicles via 2039, however it might buy carbon offsets to compensate for the air pollution from their tailpipes.
“It’s hard to tell exactly what they mean by becoming carbon neutral by 2039,” mentioned Kate Larsen, who leads transportation analysis on the Rhodium Group, an financial consulting agency with a give attention to local weather coverage.
“If the goal really means that the vehicles themselves will be zero emission rather than offset, I think that is ambitious and in line with where we need to be to meet our climate goals, with the caveat that all other sectors of the economy also have to do their part,” Larsen mentioned.
Dan Becker, government director of the Secure Local weather Marketing campaign, agreed with this sentiment.
“The worst thing about a car is what comes out of its tailpipe,” Becker mentioned. “Carbon neutral could be wonderful for the planet if it means you’re dramatically reducing emissions, and less wonderful for the planet if it means you’re only [offsetting] the emissions by planting a bunch of trees in Guatemala.”
Requested to make clear, a Daimler spokesperson offered a imprecise assertion that didn’t alleviate the confusion.
“We regard sustainability along the entire value chain,” the spokesperson mentioned in an e mail. “This includes concrete measures including the supply chain, the production of vehicles, the vehicle-use phase and recycling concepts.”
Lastly, greens faulted Daimler for not censuring the Trump administration’s rollback of greenhouse gasoline and gasoline economic system requirements, which stands to undermine its strides towards sustainability in america.
“If Daimler is serious about cutting global warming pollution, they should announce their opposition to Trump’s rollback of the clean car standards and attack on California’s Clean Air Act authority,” Becker mentioned.
Web page famous that Mercedes-Benz is a member of the Alliance of Car Producers, a commerce group that lobbied the Trump administration to calm down the automotive guidelines.
“I do question Mercedes’ continued involvement in the Auto Alliance,” Web page mentioned. “How does their membership in the trade association go with their announcement today? One way for them to make clear that today’s announcement is made in good faith would be for them to take a strong stance against the rollback.”
She added: “It’s positive to see voluntary commitments, but they just aren’t enough. And that’s why we need standards in the first place.”