VW U-turns with pledge to cut CO2 emissions by 30% by 2015

Car manufacturing giant Volkswagen (VW) has made a surprise U-turn in its sustainability targets by pledging to cut CO2 emissions from its cars by 30% by 2015, against a 2006 baseline.

The move by VW to reduce its emissions below 120g of CO2 per km by 2015 now places it 10g below an EU automobile emissions target – which until recently it appeared unwilling to commit to.

However, the carmaker appears to have bowed from pressure from campaign groups, including Greenpeace, which launched a campaign last summer against VW calling on it to ‘turn away from the dark side’ and pledge to reduce its CO2 and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In the YouTube advertising trailer featuring a child dressed as Darth Vader, Greenpeace urged people to sign a petition which called for VW to set an emission reduction target of at least 20% by the end of the decade.

VW’s latest sustainability proposals now pledges to reduce the environmental impact of its factories by 25% by 2018, against a 2010 baseline, by cutting its energy and water consumption and reducing waste volumes.

It also promises to make new vehicles, on average, 10 to 15% more energy-efficient that previous models, as well as aiming to achieve a 40% reduction in GHG emissions associated with production-related energy supplies by 2020.

However, a Greenpeace spokesperson told edie the move is “not a victory for the campaign”, adding that if “VW wants to be the most ecological car manufacturer in the world they should be more ambitious and support a target of 80g by 2020”.

VW board of management chair Dr Martin Winterkorn unveiled VW’s ecological restructuring targets earlier this week at the Geneva International Motor Show.

He said: “Our declared goal is to make Volkswagen the leading automaker in ecological terms, too”, adding that “we are raising the bar much higher when it comes to sustainability”.

VW also revealed it is planning on investing €600m in expanding the use of renewable energies such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power in its operations.

Dr Winterkorn said that VW also plans to make significant improvements in efficiency and alternative power technologies accessible across all its brands, starting with its Audi A3 and Golf brands.

He also declared 2013 would be the “year of e-mobility” for VW, as it rolls out all-electric or partially-electric vehicles across many of its brands.

VW also claims sustainable production and sustainable energy resources will feature heavily in its multi-billion investment programme.

Dr Winterkorn said: “Volkswagen is not only working on developing the most environmentally-friendly vehicles, but also on building them with the greatest possible sustainability. That is why we have set ourselves the target of making production in the Volkswagen Group 25% more environmentally compatible by 2018.”

Carys Matthews

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