The automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world. It’s also one of the most polluting. According to a study, the transportation sector is responsible for nearly one-fifth of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The production, use, and disposal of automobiles result in a significant release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. These emissions contribute to climate change, smog, acid rain, and a host of other environmental problems.
The good news is that the automotive industry is also in a unique position to mitigate these environmental risks.
What Can Drive Sustainability in the Industry
While the automotive industry has made great strides in recent years to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency, there’s still more work to be done. Here are a few factors that can drive sustainability in the automotive industry:
Increasing Environmental Awareness
The first factor is a heightened awareness of the environmental impacts of the automotive industry. In recent years, there’s been an increase in public concern about climate change, air pollution, and water pollution. This has led to more pressure on automakers to address these issues.
In response, many automakers have made sustainability a priority. They’re investing in research and development of cleaner, more efficient technologies. They’re also working to reduce their environmental impact in other ways, such as by recycling and reusing materials from older vehicles.
The second factor is government regulation. In an effort to combat climate change, many governments are enacting policies that will require automakers to produce more fuel-efficient and low-emissions vehicles.
For example, the US government has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles by 50% by 2030. This will require automakers to make significant changes to how they design, build, and power their vehicles.
In the UK, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD began issuing recommendations to businesses in 2017 in order to assist them in disclosing necessary information regarding climate-related financial risks. The objective of these guidelines was to provide businesses with a framework and motivation for disclosing this information so that it might better inform financial markets and investors.
By following these guidelines, businesses can help identify and publicize both the risks and opportunities they face from climate change. In turn, this information will assist investors, lenders, insurers, and others in making more informed decisions. The recommendations will benefit the automotive industry in the long run by helping to manage its environmental risks and forcing companies to be more transparent about those risks.
Minimizing Environmental Risks
Fortunately, there are several things that the automotive industry can do to mitigate these environmental risks. Below are three of the most important strategies: transitioning to electric vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency, and changing the manufacturing process.
Transitioning to Electric Vehicles
One of the best ways for the automotive industry to reduce its environmental impact is to transition to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles don’t produce emissions, which means they don’t contribute to climate change or air pollution. Additionally, electric vehicles are much more efficient than gas-powered cars, so they use less energy and save money over time.
The transition to electric vehicles will require a significant investment from the automotive industry. But it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run—both for the environment and the bottom line.
Increasing Fuel Efficiency
Another way for the automotive industry to reduce its environmental impact is by increasing fuel efficiency. Cars and trucks that use less fuel emit fewer greenhouse gases and other pollutants. And while electric vehicles are the most efficient option overall, there are many things that can be done to make gas-powered cars and trucks more efficient as well. For example, engine technologies have come a long way in recent years and continue to improve yearly. By investing in research and development for more efficient engine technologies, the automotive industry can make a big dent in its emissions.
In addition to investing in new technologies, the automotive industry can encourage consumers to drive less by making public transportation more accessible and affordable. This not only reduces emissions from automobiles but also reduces traffic congestion and improves public health.
Changing the Manufacturing Process
The final way that the automotive industry can reduce its environmental impact is by changing the way vehicles are manufactured. The traditional manufacturing process for automobiles is highly resource-intensive and results in a lot of waste. But there are some ways to make the manufacturing process more sustainable.
One way is to use recycled materials. Roughly 85% of a car can be recycled or reused—including metals, glass, plastics, rubber, fluids, batteries, and tires. Recycling these reduces the need to mine or harvest new materials and cuts down on waste. What’s more, it creates jobs in the recycling industry.
Another way is to use cleaner energy sources during the manufacturing process. This includes things like solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity.
By using recycled materials and cleaner energy sources, the automotive industry can make a big dent in its environmental impact. And as the cost of these technologies continues to drop, it’s only going to become more feasible for companies to make the switch.
The automotive industry is under pressure to reduce its environmental impact. Fortunately, the industry can do several things to mitigate these risks, including transitioning to electric vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency, and recycling and reusing. By following recommendations and implementing tried-and-tested strategies, the automotive industry can help protect the environment while also saving money in the long run.