There are very large gaps between what the North American auto industry says it’s doing about climate change and what it’s actually doing about climate change.
Honda professes expertise in “Environmentology.” Ford Motor Company assures us that its “Easy to be green.” And GM touts the “Chevy Volt” as proof of their commitment to all things envirobnmentally friendly.
All this public “greening” is going on at the same time that these companies, along with pretty much every other major auto manufacturer in North America, are sponsoring lawsuits across the United States in an attempt to block stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emission standards for new vehicles.
In the State of California for example, automakers have successfully used the courts to delay new greenhouse gas emissions standards for more than 5 years now. And the delay continues with no foreseeable end despite rulings going all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Of course, in North America this type of corporate behavior isn’t surprising and, sadly, the public has all but given up on trying to separate the PR spin from the truth.
Given the fact that C02 emissions from cars and light-trucks account for about 20% of the United State’s total emissions, these actions by the autolobby should not be taken lightly.
But it seems that this auto industry greenwashing is not just a North American phenomenon. Like most international sports, the European autolobby have been greenwashing for a lot longer and have developed much more skill than their American counterparts.
And when it comes to percentage of overall emissions, the European auto sector has the US beat again, with the EU transportation sector accounting for more than 28% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
According to this report by the Corporate Europe Observatory, the EU autolobby has successfully delayed any new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles since 1996!
No doubt, stats like this are the envy of the US counterparts.
To summarize 11 years of delay and obfuscation:
1996: EU agreed to reduce carbon emissions for passenger cars to 120g/km by 2010. The auto lobby and the European Commission agreed to voluntary standards with a midterm target of 140g/km by 2008.
2006: the European Commission announces in an annual report that the voluntary reductions are proceeding too slowly to meet the 2008 target. The Commission says it has ‘lost faith’ in voluntary standards and calls for binding legislation on vehicle greenhouse gas emissions of 120g/km to be met by 2012.
2006: Car lobby cries foul, saying that the current agreement runs until 2010, and that the Commission should wait until then before implementing any new emissions standards.
2006: DaimlerChrysler claims that any new mandatory regulations would result in “around 65,000 workers in the cities of Sindelfingen, Untertürkheim and Bremen would be hit [with job loss]”.
January, 2007: BMW, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler, together with the European units of Ford and General Motors send a letter to the Commission stating that, “the direct consequence would be the migration of a large number of jobs from the automobile manufacturers and the supplier industry”
February, 2007: The Commission proposes a compromise that will see a target of 130g/km. by 2012. The next day, the major lobbying arm of the European auto-lobby issues a statement that the proposal is “… arbitrary and too severe.”
Of course, by now, the auto-lobby has all but forgotten that they had agreed to reducing emissions even lower, (120g/km by 2010) in a shorter period of time under the original 1996 voluntary standard.
Told you they were good. And it doesn’t end there, the European autolobby is promising an even bigger and better campaign against the new proposed standards.