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What Is the Impact of Automotive Industry on Climate Change?

automotive industry

Marshall McLuhan, in his attempt at describing the effects of technology on modern culture, defined modern technologies as an extension of the human body. So, for example, the auto is an extension of our foot. And he did not stop there since he also admitted that these extensions have negative consequences as well.

More specifically, he claimed that every such technological extension provokes the “amputation” or modification of some other extension. For instance, cars “amputate” our walking culture which impacts the development of cities and countries. However, currently we are also aware of other consequences of the automotive industry, as, for example, its impact on climate change.

Analyzing the Numbers

Road transportation constitutes a large portion of CO2 emissions. For instance, in Europe, transport accounts for around 30% of CO2 emissions, of which more than 60% is made up by cars, almost 12% by light duty trucks and more than 26% by heavy duty trucks.

However, the automotive industry itself leaves a great carbon footprint. In fact, it produces 9% of the world’s greenhouse emissions (data from 2018). Moreover, making a car requires a lot of water and energy and producing this energy, in its turn, contributes to climate change and global warming. As a consequence, manufacturing a new car also contributes to increase waste production. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that car makers are not so keen on fighting climate change.

Improving Automotive Industry to Fight Climate Change

However, credit must be given where it is due. In the past years, the automotive industry has worked hard to make itself more green by investing in the production of electric cars. Besides, many car makers have been trying to make lighter cars in an attempt to reduce their fuel consumption.

As mentioned before, producing these new green cars requires a great amount of energy. Therefore, producing a new (electric) car is less sustainable than having old cars with internal combustion drive around. Furthermore, deciding the emission level of an electric car is not so easy since it depends on how the electricity is produced, i.e., how green is the energy itself.

We should also take into account that disposing of an electric car is less eco-friendly than getting rid of a car with internal combustion.

Electric cars are anyway a good starting point to solving the problem. In fact, they are already proving more environmentally sustainable than cars that run on petrol. However, an effort should be made to use electricity produced by renewable sources. Moreover, the automotive industry should not stop trying to come up with new, more sustainable solutions to slow down climate change.

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