‘Electrification is not enough.’ Polestar and Rivian report calls for urgent action to save planet

EV automakers Rivian and Polestar have collaborated on a “Pathway Report” which has concluded that the automotive industry, which currently accounts for 15% of all greenhouse gas on Earth, is on pace to overshoot the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) pathway by at least 75% by 2050. The report calls for urgent action and lays out a three-lever approach with hopes the entire industry can collaborate while it still has time to get back on track with the Paris Agreement.

While it’s of course fun to learn and explore all the new and emerging EVs technology here on Earth, it’s also important to recognize why zero emission vehicles have been reintroduced to society and why they are so vital to the future of the human race.

Despite what some political leaders or cynics may say, there’s no denying the blatant evidence of climate change throughout the world. While we at Electrek celebrate electric mobility, part of its success in recent years has been a symptom of a much larger issue created be the combustion-reliant vehicles that dominated the industry before them.

We’ve seen EV adoption snowball the past few years and nearly all automakers have committed to at least some deadline for complete electrification (although for many that still includes hybrids). The Paris Agreement has outlined global goals to bring Earth’s temperatures back down and combat the looming effects of climate change.

We’ve said it before. Ending the sale of gasoline vehicle by 2035 is still not enough. Others have shared similar sentiments about the Inflation Reduction Act as well. While we should of course acknowledge the good these pieces of legislature can do, we must keep the celebrations brief and refocus on the task at hand.

EV automakers like Polestar and Rivian – two relatively young marques, each with a keen focus on sustainability, share a similar sentiment and have combined to deliver a gloomy report. As hopeless as it may feel at times, this new “Pathway Report” lays out plans for action with hopes that other automakers will drop some of their competitiveness to collaborate for the good of humankind.

Please read the “Pathway Report” from Rivian, Polestar

Both Rivian and Polestar posted the “Pathway Report” this afternoon. It was carried out by global management consulting firm, Kearney, and uses existing, open-source data to model the current trajectory for emissions stemming from the automotive industry.

The IPCC has stated that all greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 43% by 2030 to remain on track for its 1.5-degree pathway. According to the report, the auto industry alone is projected to overshoot that path by at least 75% by 2050.

Furthermore, the report states the car industry is expected to spend its entire CO2 budget as early as 2035 – a deadline many automakers have set to merely end ICE vehicle sales. Essentially, the automotive industry needs to be negative emissions by 2035, so ending new combustion models by then simply will not do.

All is not lost my friends. The new report does suggest that the entire industry can still get back on track and even outlines three levers in doing so:

  • Lever 1 – Determine the speed fossil fuel-powered cars need to be replaced.
  • Lever 2 – Increase renewable energy in power grids.
  • Lever 3 – Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing supply chain.

Levers 2 and 3 will really need some serious bolstering if this strategy is to succeed. Polestar in particular has made admirable efforts to reduce its carbon footprint throughout its production processes and is currently working to deliver a climate-neutral EV by 2030 and hopefully one day deliver a 100% recyclable EV. Polestar’s head of sustainability Fredrika Klarén spoke to the “Pathway Report” assembled with the help of Rivian:

Car companies may be on different paths when it comes to brand, design, and business strategies, and some won’t even admit that the road to the future is electric. I believe it is, and that the climate crisis is a shared responsibility, and we must look beyond tailpipe emissions. This report makes clear the importance of acting now and together. There’s a clear cost to inaction, but there’s also a financial opportunity for innovators who find new answers to the challenges we face.

Polestar and Rivian state today’s report has already been shared with several of the world’s largest automakers alongside a roundtable invitation to discuss collaborative action. More talks are being planned over the coming months. You can view the full report from Kearney here.

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