China’s big carmakers show no signs of ending production of fossil-fuel vehicles, struggle to keep pace with nation’s net-zero goal: Greenpeace
- Warren Buffett-backed BYD is the only major Chinese carmaker to end production of conventional cars, but it is yet to announce a timeline to reach carbon neutrality
- Slow transition to zero-emission vehicles hinders China’s carbon neutrality efforts, Greenpeace campaigner Bao Hang says
“A slow transition to zero-emission vehicles hinders China’s carbon neutrality efforts,” said Bao Hang, a Greenpeace East Asia campaigner in Beijing. “At the same time, China’s new EV producers are rapidly expanding, and the industry as a whole is moving towards an EV-driven market. Traditional automakers that fail to transition to EVs risk losing market share and falling behind.”
Greenpeace analysed China’s 10 biggest carmakers based on their sales in 2021, rating their performance on low-carbon transition based on their net-zero commitments, EV deployment, fuel efficiency and emissions data transparency.
While battery-powered cars accounted for 43.7 per cent of BYD’s total sales in 2021, the proportion was less than 14 per cent at each of the other nine carmakers.
On net-zero commitments, only six of the 10 carmakers have announced targets. Chang’an, Geely and Great Wall plan to achieve net zero by 2045, and BAIC, GAC and FAW after 2050.
EV sales in China, the world’s largest market, reached 3.52 million units last year, almost doubling from the previous year, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
However, Greenpeace said that Chinese carmakers’ transition towards zero emissions remains slow. Accelerating the transition towards EVs can contribute greatly to China’s climate targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060, Greenpeace added, suggesting they stop sales of combustion engine cars by 2030.
According to the China Automotive Technology & Research Center, the nation’s car industry emitted greenhouse gases equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2021, more than the annual carbon emissions of Japan.
Although EV sales ballooned during the first half of this year, the per unit cost of EVs in China is still higher than conventional cars. EVs are becoming cost competitive and are likely to reach price parity in China within the next five to 10 years, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.
“Auto companies in China should accelerate their investment in EV technology, so that they are ahead of the curve, rather than falling behind due to a focus on short-term profits at the expense of long-term strategy,” said Bao.
“If China’s top auto manufacturers aspire to be world leaders, they must show they can undertake the global responsibility to fight climate change,” he added.