Polestar is building a zero-emission car with no ‘cop-out’ carbon offsets

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Swedish electric car maker Polestar says it will build the world’s first truly zero-emission vehicle without relying on carbon offsets, which it described as an “escape”.

The company, which grew out of Volvo and Volvo’s parent company Geely, shaped its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by transforming the way its cars are made as a ‘moonshot target’ that would result in the world’s first carbon neutral car by 2030.

Carbon offsets, such as tree planting, have become a standard way for car companies and other businesses to write off their CO2 emissions by investing in renewable energy or conservation projects that focus on forests’ ability to naturally store carbon, to reinforce. But there is growing evidence Which offsets failed in slowing global warming and have instead licensed businesses to continue to pollute.

“Compensation is a way out,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a statement. “By pushing ourselves to make a completely carbon neutral car, we are forced to go further than what is possible today. We will have to question everything, innovate and look at exponential technologies while designing from zero. “

FedEx, United, Delta and JetBlue said they would eliminate all of their emissions in the coming decades. And Uber and Lyft have pledged to become carbon neutral within a similar timeframe.

The automaker makes two cars: the $ 155,000 hybrid coupé Polestar 1 and the Polestar 2 all-electric fastback sedan. The Polestar 3, an electric crossover SUV, is expected to be released in late 2021. will only produce electric vehicles.

The real challenge for Polestar is to eliminate carbon emissions from the manufacturing process and supply chain. Several major carmakers have committed to phase out gas-powered vehicles by a specific target date, including General Motors, Ford and Polestar’s parent company, Volvo. But automotive production, including the extraction of rare earth minerals used in lithium-ion batteries, is an intense carbon-heavy process. Even reducing those emissions, not to mention eliminating them, will be a hugely consistent task.

As a boutique company, Polestar may have more flexibility to achieve its goals than other larger – and therefore less nimble – companies. The company announced its so-called Polestar 0 project as part of its first annual review, in which it also said sustainability statements would be applied to all future Polestar models.

Sustainability statements, popular in industries such as food and fashion, is a checklist of all carbon emissions and waste associated with a product or process. Starting with the Polestar 2, the company says it will list on its website the carbon footprint and risk material tracked associated with the production of each of its vehicles.

“Today, Polestar 2 is leaving factory gates with a carbon footprint,” said Ingenlath. “In 2030 we want to present a car that does not.”