Automakers’ Climate Policy Stance Undermines Global Environmental Goals, New Report Finds

A comprehensive study conducted by InfluenceMap has brought to light the concerning dynamics between the world’s leading automakers and the global effort to combat climate change. The report meticulously examines the climate policy engagement strategies of fifteen of the largest global automakers across seven key regions – Australia, EU, Japan, India, South Korea, UK, and the US. The findings reveal a stark reality: the majority of these automakers are actively engaging in lobbying efforts that threaten to derail critical climate targets and slow the transition to electric vehicles (EVs).

The InfluenceMap report indicates that, with the exception of Tesla, all analysed automakers have, at some point, opposed policies favourable to the advancement of electric vehicles. A significant portion of the companies studied have been particularly aggressive in their opposition, with ten of the fifteen receiving a grade of D or D+ for their climate policy engagement efforts. Toyota emerges as the most resistant to progressive climate regulations, notably opposing measures that promote battery electric vehicles in the US, Australia, and the UK. Conversely, Tesla stands out as the only automaker with advocacy efforts aligned with science-based climate policies, earning a grade of B.

The study highlights the critical role of industry associations in the automakers’ lobbying strategies, which have been instrumental in diluting ambitious climate legislation worldwide. For instance, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) in Australia played a pivotal role in weakening the New Vehicle Efficiency Standards, resulting in a policy that falls short of the initially proposed emissions reduction target. Similarly, in the US, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation has been a key player in advocating for less stringent GHG emission standards.

Amidst these challenges, only Tesla, Mercedes Benz, and BMW are on track to meet the International Energy Agency’s 1.5°C pathway requirement of 66% electric vehicle sales (including battery electric, fuel cell, and plug-in hybrids) by 2030. The report underscores the broader industry’s shortfall, with current forecasts indicating that electric vehicles will constitute merely 53% of automakers’ production by 2030. This lag in EV production is particularly alarming given that transport is the third-largest source of GHG emissions globally.

Japanese automakers are identified as the least prepared for the EV transition, engaging most strongly against it. Toyota, Suzuki, and Mazda, in particular, have been spotlighted for their global advocacy strategies that favour the prolonged use of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, including hybrids. This resistance is mirrored in their projected electric vehicle production by 2030, with all three companies ranking at the bottom.

Furthermore, the report raises concerns over the growing trend of larger passenger vehicle production, such as SUVs and light trucks, which is expected to increase from 57% of global light-duty sales in 2020 to 64% in 2030. This shift towards larger vehicles, which have higher oil consumption rates, poses an additional threat to achieving global climate targets.

The InfluenceMap analysis presents a sobering view of the automotive industry’s impact on global climate policy. It underscores the urgent need for a concerted effort among automakers to align their lobbying activities with the global imperative to transition to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation system. Industry experts echo the sentiment, emphasizing the critical role of automakers in supporting, rather than undermining, the advancement of climate-friendly policies and technologies.