Volvo's Climate Action Plan Sets An Example For The Automotive Industry
The industry must reduce emissions and focus on sustainable solutions for the future instead of relying on fossil fuels to power vehicles.
- By Emily Folk
- Nov 16, 2020
The automotive industry is one that does not come without issues. Due to the vast amount of carbon that vehicles emit, the industry has a reputation for being a heavy polluter. With the climate crisis worsening quickly, automotive pollution is a stark contrast to environmental efforts around the world. However, the Volvo climate action plan is a sign of progress in the industry.
Volvo has shown what changes are necessary for companies across the board to make. The industry must reduce emissions and focus on sustainable solutions for the future instead of relying on fossil fuels to power vehicles. United action among automotive vendors is what will bring about those vital changes.
Details Of The Plan
In 2018, the transportation sector accounted for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions. It was the highest contributor, with the electrical and industrial sectors following close behind. A statistic like this one is far behind where the automotive industry needs to be.
The new climate action plan from Volvo plans to address these numbers by doubling down on reducing emissions and focusing on carbon pollution in particular.
According to Volvo's official press release, the company announced its plan roughly a year ago and has been working diligently ever since to benefit the planet. The main deadline Volvo has in mind is 2040. By this year, the company hopes to become carbon-neutral. That would mean the company fully offsets the emissions it produces.
Companies can achieve carbon neutrality in a number of ways. First, they can find ways to reduce existing carbon in the atmosphere. A common way to do so is by planting large numbers of trees. Another way is by focusing on eliminating carbon emissions altogether, which is what Volvo is striving for.
The first step is to reduce these emissions by 2025. Though the end deadline is 2040, having 2025 as a sooner goal puts pressure on the company to act faster—which is what the climate needs to stop the damage of global warming. In five years, the Volvo climate action plan seeks to have half of the cars it sells be fully electric, with the other half being hybrid models.
This step aligns with the company's goal to reduce its carbon footprint by 40% per car retroactively from 2018 through 2025. Electric cars and hybrid models are a clear way to achieve that number. Other prominent goals include a 50% reduction per car in tailpipe emissions, a 25% reduction per car in operational emissions and a 25% reduction per car in supply chain emissions.
The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) recently verified Volvo's plan and approved it. This approval from an outside organization means good things for Volvo. Since it is a third-party group, consumers and the rest of the world can see that the action plan isn't just for show—it's a legitimate promise.
These steps and verifications for the Volvo climate action plan work towards meeting the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040.
As part of its plan, Volvo has more in store for helping the environment. The company recently raised a EUR 500m bond from investors to design and manufacture electric cars. This funding will be what ultimately catapults Volvo's plan into reality. The bond matures in October 2027 and has annual monitoring for transparency.
Volvo also understands the necessity to recycle and reuse automotive materials during the manufacturing process. This reuse creates a more circular economy where parts don't go to waste but instead come back into use—creating more sustainable and environmentally friendly efforts overall.
Lastly, Volvo is also providing machinery for environmentalists seeking to restore and protect the Florida Everglades. By stepping outside its own plan, Volvo's collaborations help the environment in varied ways. This landmark region in Florida is necessary for ecosystem functionality and the health of the planet in general.
Volvo As A Leader
The Volvo climate action plan is an example for other automotive companies to follow. The industry is one where carbon emissions run high, and it's time for these companies to follow Volvo and put a plan in place. Then, nationwide and global automotive emissions can continue to decrease and the planet can begin to recover.
Emily Folk covers topics in sustainability, conservation and green technology. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.