Hundreds of cities and regional authorities have signed an agreement to promote the elimination of new car emissions by 2040, but the agreement lacks the support of some of the world’s largest automakers and largest markets.
The pledge announced at COP26 on Wednesday covers a quarter of the world’s cars and is supported by manufacturers such as Daimler, Ford, General Motors, and China’s BYD, as well as the governments of Canada and Chile.
However, despite months of pressure from the United Kingdom, four of the world’s five largest automakers — Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault-Nissan Alliance, and Hyundai-Kia — have yet to sign contracts.
China, the world’s largest auto market, has not signed a contract. By Tuesday night, the second largest United States did not participate in the agreement, although individual states including California, New York, and Washington, as well as cities such as Dallas, Charleston, Atlanta, and Seattle, supported the agreement. Sao Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina also joined this commitment.
The agreement promises that the signatories will stop selling new vehicles that generate emissions in “major markets” globally by 2035 and 2040.
LeasePlan, the world’s largest car rental company, joined the deal, and Uber also signed an agreement promising to achieve zero emissions for its entire fleet by 2030.
Daimler chairman Ola Kallenius said that the deal “shows an underlying mentality that something must be done and something can be done.” He said that the missing signatories, including automakers BMW and Volkswagen and the German government, have not eliminated the impact of the statement.
“Each company must make its own choices, but all the colleagues I know are moving forward at a very fast pace,” he told the Financial Times. “Few countries have invested so much capital, resources or brainpower in the transformation like the German auto industry.”
Supporting this deal has allowed Mercedes-Benz owners to pay very little additional cost, because it has promised to sell only electric cars where feasible by 2035, and will only launch battery models after 2025.
Other car supporters such as Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars have also developed electric plans within the timetable.
But the British Transport Secretary Grant Sharps said the deal marked “a turning point in the transition to clean road transport.”
Nigel Topping, who represents the United Kingdom on the UN climate change issue, said: “We are approaching the end of the internal combustion engine. The only question is when.”
He said that cities that signed contracts in countries that did not have national-level commitments still sent “strong market signals.”
However, environmentalists ridiculed the failure to gain universal support.
COP26 Greenpeace delegation head Juan Pablo Osornio (Juan Pablo Osornio) said: “For this statement to be credible, all major car manufacturing countries need to participate, including Germany and the United States. “This week is a critical moment. Important leaders have sent a signal that fossil fuels are being phased out and are no longer a viable investment.”
Helen Clarkson, the head of the non-profit organization Climate Group, said that “companies that are not at the “Transport Day” negotiating table are on the wrong side of history.”
In another agreement, COP26 truck manufacturers including Scania and fleet operators including DHL also pledged to achieve zero emissions for all new vehicles by 2040. However, this deal, backed by the United Kingdom, Chile, Turkey and New Zealand, once again lacked support for the US government.
As part of our coverage of COP26, we hope to hear from you. Do you think carbon pricing is the key to combating climate change?Tell us in brief PollsWe will share some of the most interesting and thought-provoking answers in our newsletter or upcoming stories.