Detroit-based General Motors Co. announced Thursday that it plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040. It has committed to targets to achieve the goal and has signed the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5°C, a call to action from a global coalition of United Nations agency, business, and industry leaders.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener, and better world,” says Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
The company also worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to develop a shared vision of an all-electric future and an aspiration to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035. GM’s goal is to offer zero-emissions vehicles across a range of price points and working with all stakeholders to build out the necessary charging infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance while maintaining jobs.
“With this extraordinary step forward, GM is making it crystal clear that taking action to eliminate pollution from all new light-duty vehicles by 2035 is an essential element of any automaker’s business plan,” says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past, but this is a new day in America — one where serious collaboration to achieve transportation electrification, science-based climate progress, and equitably shared economic opportunity can move our nation forward.”
The company plans to decarbonize its portfolio by transitioning to battery electric vehicles or other zero-emissions vehicle technology, sourcing renewable energy, and leveraging minimal offsets or credits.
Use of GM’s products account for 75 percent of carbon emissions related to the company’s commitment. GM will offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade, and 40 percent of the company’s U.S. models offered will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025. GM is investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next five years, up from the $20 billion planned before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investment includes the continued development of GM’s Ultium battery technology, updating facilities such as Factor ZERO in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee to build electric vehicles from globally sourced parts, and investing in new sites such as Ultium Cells in Ohio as well as manufacturing and STEM jobs.
More than half of GM’s capital spending and product development team will be devoted to electric and electric-autonomous vehicle programs. The vehicles will include crossovers and SUVs, trucks, and sedans.
The company will also continue to increase fuel efficiency of its traditional combustion vehicles in accordance with regional fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations. Some of these initiatives include fuel economy improvement technologies such as start/stop, aerodynamic efficiency enhancements, downsized boosted engines, more efficient transmissions, and other vehicle improvements, including mass reduction and lower rolling resistance tires.
To address emissions from its operations, GM will source 100 percent renewable energy to power its U.S. sites by 2030 and its global sites by 2035. This represents a five-year acceleration of the company’s previously announced global goal.
To account for the expected remaining carbon emissions, GM plans to invest in carbon credits or offsets. The company will assess credit and offset solutions in the coming years, and says it will use the offsets sparingly and instead focus on a holistic view of mitigating the effects of climate change and helping people thrive around the world.
The company is implementing plans to reduce the impact associated with its supply chain while supporting grids and utilities to power electric vehicles with renewable energy. GM has worked with some of its largest suppliers to create a sustainability council to share best practices and create new standards for the industry. GM is also collaborating with suppliers to set targets for the supply chain to reduce emissions, increase transparency, and source more sustainable materials.
While electric vehicles do not emit tailpipe emissions, they must be charged with electricity generated from renewable sources to be emission free. GM has worked with utilities and developers to support investments in renewable energy found in and around communities that have GM facilities through power purchase agreements and green tariffs.
GM also is working with EVgo to triple the size of the nation’s largest public fast charging network by adding more than 2,700 new fast chargers by the end of 2025. The fast chargers will be powered entirely by renewable energy.