The largest automaker in the United States has vowed to be carbon neutral by 2040. So what does that mean for the rest of us?
In a statement released on January 28, 2021, General Motors announced a plan to “become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040.” The cries of “you’ll take our gas-powered, fossil-fuel burning engines out of my cold, dead cars” rose up immediately. But what does GM’s bold statement actually mean?
For one, they’re following a trend. Massachusetts recently vowed to ban the sale of any NEW vehicle with an internal combustion engine as part of that state’s efforts towards carbon-neutrality by 2050. They are the third such state to move towards that effort, the first, unsurprisingly being California with a ban proposed in October 2020 by Governor Gavin Newsom that would phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. New Jersey followed suit, proposing a similar ban.
That General Motors would see the writing on the wall isn’t surprising, and neither, frankly, is the announcement. GM has been restructuring in multiple ways to encourage the production of electric vehicles, and their recent logo change was a bright, blue, blinking hint to the fact that GM KNOWS the future is electric, locally and globally.
“General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.”
This means expanding the offerings of electric vehicles, working towards carbon neutrality in production and operations, sourcing renewable energy and a $27 billion investment which will fund “development of GM’s Ultium battery technology, updating facilities such as Factory ZERO in Michigan and Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee to build electric vehicles from globally sourced parts and investing in new sites like Ultium Cells LLC in Ohio as well as manufacturing and STEM jobs.”
The commitment starts now, with efforts towards making 40% of GMs offerings electric by the end of 2025. It also means efforts towards making anything powered by an internal-combustion engine more fuel-efficient.
In addition to the plans for the vehicles itself, GM plans to power its production process with renewable energy, invest in carbon offset credits and create better, more responsible sustainability practices in its global supply chain.
And of course, there are the batteries. EVs (electric vehicles) cannot succeed if they cannot be charged, and GM is committed to working with EVgo to expand the fast charger network across the United States.
GMs efforts have been in the works for awhile, but the timeline has been accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has already been recognized for its efforts at utilizing renewable energy by the EPA, and is the 10th largest offtaker of renewable energy in the world.
These efforts showcase General Motors ability to look at the future, and plan accordingly.