Nissan CEO Ghosn makes climate change declaration: "We must do more"


Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn declared "The time for debate is over" and the time is now to address climate change. The bold statement was made in a guest column he posted on in December 2015.


The post was written following the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and helped explain why Ghosn and 12 other automotive CEOs committed publicly to help decarbonizing automotive transportation. In his post he wrote "If the world is to reduce manmade greenhouse gas emissions that are the cause of global climate change, we must accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy now, starting with cleaner transportation."


The 13 executives issued a two-page document titled "CEO Climate Leadership for Automotive." In the document, the automotive leaders commit to three things. They will continue to prioritize efforts to increase the fuel efficiency of the internal combustion engine. They will advocate for policies that place a value on greenhouse gas reduction. They will also harness the potential of “new technologies, digitalization and the sharing economy” to provide new and flexible opportunities for transport.


Signers of the letter not only included Ghosn, but the CEOs of General Motors, Ford Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Volvo Group, DENSO Group, Beijing Automotive Group and India's Mahindra & Mahindra, along with the leaders of some of the world’s largest automotive suppliers including Bosch, Apollo Tyres, Michellin and Johnson Controls.


Though skeptics have noted no timetables were outlined for reaching the goals for transitioning away from carbon-based fuels outlined in the letter, in Ghosn's post, he flatly stated the "transition will occur one way or another."


Ghosn noted that an orderly transition benefits adaptive and innovative companies and will reward new technology. He continued by stating: "Fortunately, there is a practical, affordable way to begin reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and it is available today: Electric vehicles. EVs are the only zero-emissions vehicles that can be powered with purely renewable energy."


Ghosn pointed out his company's electric cars account for approximately 50% off all EV on the road today. "And while I’m proud of our EV leadership, I know it's not enough. Zero-emissions vehicles remain a tiny fraction of the overall vehicle market."


Looking to the future, Ghosn noted that it will take continued commitments by the auto industry along with local, state and national governments to ensure the transition to a low-carbon economy continues. Those involved need to see the fight against climate change as a way to create value in their own future. The latest New Climate Economy Report, produced by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, states the global market for low-carbon and environmental goods and services is worth more than $5.5 trillion. That number is only expected to grow, and the companies that are able to adapt and provide the goods and services that the market needs will be the ones to have a competitive advantage, be better positioned to face future obstacles and ultimately prosper.


Ghosn ended by stating, "The U.N. Secretary General recently said that we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last to be able to do anything to stop it. This is a call to action, and the auto industry is committed to doing its part."


Consumers can do their part to help this transition to a new low-carbon economy by making their voices heard with their wallets. Nothing will spur further development and production of electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them faster than knowing there are buyers waiting.

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