Deal to End Car Emissions by 2040 Hits Speed Bump as Major Automakers Abstain from Pledge

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
November 10, 2021 Updated: November 10, 2021

Several of the world’s biggest automakers—including Nissan-Renault, Toyota, and Volkswagen—have not signed on to a pledge to phase out sales of new gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040, according to a draft COP26 declaration published by the UK government.

“Together, we will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets,” reads the declaration, which has been signed by nearly a dozen car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo Cars.

Notably absent from the signatory list are the world’s two biggest automakers, Toyota and Volkswagen. And while around 30 governments have signed the pledge, auto manufacturing powerhouses Germany, Japan, and the United States have not, while China, the world’s biggest car market, is also missing from the list.

Japan Toyota
Workers assembling fourth-generation Toyota Prius cars on the production line at the company’s Tsutsumi assembly plant in Toyota City, Aichi prefecture, on Dec. 8, 2017. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Financial Times, reluctance on the part of some automakers to join the pledge is driven by the fact that China, Germany, and the United States have not signed on.

Some two dozen vehicle fleet operators, including Uber, joined the coalition, promising to operate only zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, “or earlier where markets allow.”

A spokesperson for Germany’s environment ministry said the government agrees only zero-emission vehicles should be registered by 2035, but it has not agreed whether combustion engine fuels from renewable sources can be part of the solution.

While Germany’s biggest automakers said they support the goal to move towards zero emissions vehicles, they warned that the ability to reach the COP26 targets may vary between regions.

Volkswagen said the pace at which it could transform its portfolio towards electric vehicles might vary from region to region depending on factors including local politics and the availability of renewable energy.

BMW, which has also not signed the pledge, said it is able to produce zero emission technology but would abstain from the agreement for now due to uncertainty around the development of infrastructure for zero emission vehicles across all markets.

World leaders are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, scheduled to run until Nov. 12.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'