Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Hundreds of city and regional authorities have signed an agreement to push for the elimination of new car emissions by 2040, but the agreement does not have the support of some of the biggest car players and markets in the world.

The pledge, which will be announced at COP26 on Wednesday, covers a quarter of the world’s cars and is backed by manufacturers including Daimler, Ford, General Motors and China’s BYD, as well as governments including Canada and Chile.

Despite months of pressure from the UK, four of the world’s five largest carmakers – Volkswagen, Toyota, the Renault-Nissan alliance and Hyundai-Kia – did not enter.

China, the world’s largest car market, has not signed. The U.S., the second-largest, was also absent from the agreement by Tuesday night, although individual states, including California, New York and Washington, backed the agreement, as well as cities such as Dallas, Charleston, Atlanta and Seattle. São Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina also joined the promise.

The agreement commits the signatories to ending the sale of new cars that produce emissions in “leading markets” by 2035 and worldwide by 2040.

The world’s largest car rental company, LeasePlan, has joined the agreement, while Uber has also signed a commitment to make its entire fleet non-exempt by 2030.

Ola Kallenius, chairman of Daimler, said the deal “shows there is an underlying mindset that something needs to be done and can be done”. He said the missing signatories, which include carmakers BMW and VW and the German government, did not take away from the impact of the statement.

“Every company has to make their own choice, but all the colleagues I know are all moving forward at a very fast pace,” he told the Financial Times. “There are very few countries that put as much money, resources or brainpower into the transformation as the German car industry.”

To support the deal, the owner of Mercedes-Benz costs a little extra, as he has already committed to sell only electric cars where possible by 2035, and will only introduce battery models after 2025.

Other car fans such as Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Cars have also already outlined electrical plans that fall within the timeline.

But British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the agreement was “a tipping point in the transition to clean road transport”.

Nigel Topping, who represents the UK on climate change at the UN, said: “We are coming to the end of the internal combustion engine, the only question is when.”

The cities recording in countries where there was no commitment at the national level still sent a “strong market signal”, he said.

Yet the failure to gain universal support has been mocked by environmentalists.

“For this announcement to have credibility, all major car manufacturing countries must be part of it, including Germany and the US,” said Juan Pablo Osornio, head of the Greenpeace delegation at COP26. “This week is a difficult time, and it is essential that leaders send a signal that fossil fuels are on the way and are no longer a viable investment.”

Helen Clarkson, head of the non-profit organization Climate Group, said companies that “were not at the table on ‘Transport Day’ are on the wrong side of history”.

In a separate agreement, truck manufacturers at COP26, including Scania and fleet operators, including DHL, also undertook not to make any emissions emissions by 2040. However, the agreement, backed by the UK, Chile, Turkey and New Zealand, once again has the support of the US government.

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