Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess could not have sounded better.
“Climate change will be a major humanitarian crisis in the coming decades,” he said at a motor show in Munich in September, as air charts appeared on a large window behind it.
However, when world automotive leaders gathered on stage in Glasgow for the COP26 summit to promise to end the sale of polluted cars anywhere in the world by 2040, VW was not.
He was not alone. Toyota, Stellantis and Hyundai were among the leading manufacturers to reject the Glasgow alliance, which enables car manufacturers to sell zero-emissions by 2035 in major markets and 2040 among others.
Only six finalists – Ford, General Motors, Daimler, BYD, Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover – have signed off, far ahead of the expected car giants.
“How I Failed. . . what a shame. I have no words to say, “said Thomas Ingenlath, manager of Polestar, Volvo’s electronics industry, referring to the parties that refused to sign.
The division between signatories and non-signatories reflects the differences that exist within the industry. Some traffic controllers think that clear motives are necessary to help change the situation, and complain that teams that refuse to sign have been shown as green frauds.
Volvo Car boss Hakan Samuelsson, the only major producer from the world’s leading car maker at the unveiling of the pledges, has made clear his intentions, saying it is necessary to stop the production of fire engines.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 2032 or 2035 or any other time, no one wants to work with a deadline,” he told the Financial Times.
Climate groups were wreaking havoc on those who did not sign.
Helen Clarkson from the Climate Group, a non-profit organization, said what had happened in the companies was a “historical flaw”.
But for those who have a problem, the binding of products that are out of control leaves them at risk of promises they cannot deliver.
While some have secretly stated that they would probably meet the goals of COP26, they are warning that infrastructure, such as a revenue-generating center, should be put in place if they are to meet the objectives of the declaration.
He emphasized that governments and industries have already made significant efforts to reduce emissions.
For example, VW has promised to spend € 35bn on its transition to electric vehicles, while emissions from Europe and China are forcing manufacturers to switch from combustion engines.
“We have the same goals, but there is a lot of history behind it [signing] that, “says Ralf Pfitzner, chief of operations at VW.
He said “rebuilding trust” after the 2015 diesel disaster, when VW was found to have deceived consumers and regulators over environmental pollution, meant the company felt it could not achieve its goals.
“If today we can’t sign something, we shouldn’t do it. But at the end of the day we are doing it, we are rolling out EVs on the streets. “
Groups with British currency, including Toyota, Nissan, Stellantis, BMW and Honda, could not be brought to the table despite intense pressure from UK officials.
Even the UK officials’ suggestion that delegates from the unsigned be banned from the “blue zone” – the COP26 protected area played by international leaders and journalists – failed to win.
Delayed acceptance, such as providing access to exit markets or making 90 percent of air-conditioned vehicles, did not help, according to two observers.
However, major car manufacturers were not the only ones not to be included in the COP26 announcement.
China, the world’s largest automotive market, US, is the second largest, and Germany has refused to sign a commitment to end new car emissions by 2040.
However, a number of major cities and regions around the world have supported the partnership with local scientists and car manufacturers in pointing out their important role in energy efficiency.
In the US, California, New York and Washington as well as Dallas, Charleston, Atlanta and Seattle signed the agreement.
Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, states: “Countries with the strongest. [or regional] Governance will play a vital role in promoting social justice. “
Daimler’s boss Ola Kallenius, who signed the summit, also added that the role of governments and cities in green reform is a matter of priority, showing confidence that car manufacturers can take action on growth.
“Sales [manufacturing electric cars] it’s something I don’t worry about, “he told the Financial Times.
Yet even among the sponsors of the agreement, there is a consensus that more needs to be done by governments to reduce the transition to electricity generation facilities and the necessary equipment to support the zero-emissions business.
Ford permanent manager Cynthia Williams, who asked on stage at a Glasgow conference what was needed, replied: “Architecture, architecture, architecture.”