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internal combustion engine

An assembly line employee works on an internal combustion engine in a Nissan Altima at the Xiangyang plant of Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Company on August 4, 2022 in Xiangyang, Hubei Province,  China. (Photo: Yang Dong/VCG via Getty Images)

Automakers Poised to Sell 400 Million More Gas-Powered Cars Than Planet Can Handle: Report

Greenpeace, the report's author, argues that internal combustion motor must be phased out, and vehicles must be electrified "to make road transport compatible with the Paris agreement's goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C."

Brett Wilkins

The world's automakers are on track to sell roughly 400 million more gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles than would align with the Paris climate agreement's objective of limiting global heating to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, according to a report published Thursday by Greenpeace Germany.

"If traditional automakers fail to electrify, they will lose out to newer, all-electric competitors."

The paper—entitled The Internal Combustion Engine Bubble—argues that "current auto industry planning is not aligned with a 1.5°C-compatible carbon budget and might result in millions of vehicles manufacturers can't sell."

"The internal combustion engine (ICE) needs to be phased out, and the vehicle fleet needs to be electrified to make road transport compatible with the Paris agreement's goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C," the publication states. "However, just how fast this transition must happen, what it means for the auto industry, and whether the companies' planning delivers what is needed to comply with the 1.5°C goal remains unclear."

Benjamin Stephan, climate campaigner at Greenpeace Germany, said in a statement that "leading auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Volkswagen, and Hyundai, are transitioning far too slowly to zero-emission vehicles, which has dangerous consequences for our planet."

"As the climate crisis intensifies, governments from New York to Singapore are enacting stricter bans on diesel and petrol vehicles," Stephan added. "If traditional automakers fail to electrify, they will lose out to newer, all-electric competitors and risk stranded assets. Toyota, Volkswagen, and other leading automakers are on a collision course with the climate."

The new report "defines the number of ICE vehicles that could still be sold within a 1.5°C carbon trajectory and projects the auto industry's ICE sales based on the assessment of four major manufacturers' plans—Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai/Kia, and General Motors—and quantifies the overshoot."

Greenpeace urges automakers to "immediately end investment in internal combustion engine technology and phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in Europe by 2028 and across the rest of the world no later than 2030," while calling on governments to "eliminate subsidies for petrol and diesel cars and fossil fuels."

Last month, the European Union lawmakers and member nations agreed to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans by 2035, following similar moves by places including Singapore, Canada, and the U.S. states of California, Washington, and New York earlier this year.

The new report comes days after members of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen protested what they called Toyota's "slow-walking of electric vehicles" by hiring a plane trailing a banner reading "Want exciting? Drive electric. Want boring? Drive Toyota" at the NASCAR Cup Series Championship race at the Phoenix Raceway in Arizona.

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