A minimum of six major auto-manufacturers, including Volvo, Ford, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz, and 30 national governments vowed on Wednesday to work toward ending new gasoline and diesel car sales globally by 2040, and in “leading markets” by 2035.

However, several of the world’s largest automakers, including Volkswagen, Toyota, and the Nissan-Renault alliance, declined to sign the non-legally binding pact. Also abstaining were the governments of Japan, China, and the United States, three of the world’s largest car markets.

Major Automakers

Climate activists greeted the statement, which came during international climate negotiations in this city, as yet another proof that the internal combustion engine’s days are limited. Every year, electric cars establish new sales records throughout the world, and major automakers have recently begun investing tens of billions of dollars to restructure their facilities and produce new battery-powered automobiles.

According to Margo Orge, having these parties pledge towards this cause is highly significant, and there should be ways to ensure they follow up. Margo Oge is a former senior US air quality officer who now consults both environmental organizations and automakers. He also added that it shows that these firms and their boards of directors see that the future is electric.

In 2019, the pledged manufactures accounted for nearly one-quarter of worldwide sales. India, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, and Sweden were among the 30 countries that formed the coalition. The number of national governments had previously been estimated to be between 29 and 31 based on news announcements from organizers of the event.

India’s inclusion was remarkable because it is the world’s fourth-largest auto market and has never committed to reducing emissions from its vehicles on a set schedule. Turkey, Ghana, Croatia, and Rwanda were among the countries that pledged for the very first time to sell only zero-emission automobiles by a certain date.

Major Automakers

The promise was also signed by the states of California, Washington, and New York. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order last year mandating the state will only allow the selling of new zero-emission vehicles by 2035, although regulators have yet to establish laws to make this a reality. New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law early this year that established an equivalent target. This was the first time Washington has made such a formal commitment.

According to the agreement, automakers would aim toward the zero-emission new vehicle and van sales in top economies by 2035 or sooner. This will be backed by a business strategy that is aligned with realizing this objective, as they help develop customer demand.   

Plug-in electric cars or hydrogen fuel-cell cars can be used as zero-emission vehicles, while the latter has struggled to achieve market dominance. Electric cars can still emit pollutants if they are recharged with power from natural gas-fired power stations or coal, for example. However, they are regarded to be cleaner generally compared to combustion engine vehicles and do not emit pollution through their tailpipes.

Two dozen vehicle fleet companies, notably Uber and LeasePlan, have also pledged to operate solely zero-emission automobiles by 2030, “or sooner if markets permit.” Transportation amounts to around one-fifth of humankind’s carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, with passenger cars like automobiles and vans accounting for slightly less than 50% of that.

Major Automakers

Worries about air pollution and global warming have prompted governments all over the world, such as the United States, China, and the European Union, to substantially subsidize electric cars and impose stricter emissions limits on new diesel and gasoline-fueled vehicles in the past few years.

As per BloombergNEF, an energy research group, the price of lithium-ion batteries has dropped by roughly 80% from 2013, which makes electric vehicles more competitive with conventional combustion engine vehicles. However, many consumers are still sceptical about the new technology due to concerns such as charging station availability.   

Several of the automakers who signed the accord had already committed to making their vehicles cleaner. G.M. announced in January that by 2035, the company plans to stop selling new gasoline-powered automobiles and light trucks and instead focus on battery-powered vehicles. 

Volvo previously stated that its whole vehicle lineup would be entirely electrified by 2030. Ford, which last year unveiled an electric version of its F-150 pickup truck which is a best seller, had earlier stated that electric vehicles would account for 40% of its worldwide vehicle mix by 2030. BYD, a Chinese automaker that has made significant advances selling electric cars in Europe, and Jaguar Land Rover,  were the other two companies to sign the pledge.