A coalition of environmental NGOs are demanding Toyota change course under the banner of the “Polluta” campaign
Toyota is the world’s largest auto manufacturer, adding 9.6 million new cars to the roads last year, which will emit 45 million tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to building 12 new coal-fired power plants.
Toyota, and the entire car industry, plan to ramp up car sales in 2022 as economies recover from the pandemic. Global car sales for 2022 are forecast to grow to around 84 million vehicles - equivalent to building 104 new coal-fired power plants.
Cars typically only get scrapped after 10-20 years of usage, so this is locking in polluting infrastructure until 2030-2040, by when scientists say we need to have radically lower emissions if we want to maintain a climate safe for large scale human habitation and a healthy biodiverse ecosystem. If the car industry wanted merely to maintain/roll over the existing size car fleet, we would still have a contradiction with our climate goals.
However, Toyota and the whole car industry are not merely seeking to replace existing cars at the same rate, but are trying to aggressively expand personal car ownership rates globally every year, spending over $1 Billion a year on advertising in the US alone.
Instead of providing equitable access for all to clean mobility, Toyota is planning to expand fossil fuelled car sales in the developing world for decades after they are banned in wealthy countries (e.g UK's current planned 2030 date), to maintain its own profits at the expense of public health, and drive escalating climate impacts that disproportionately damage developing and least-developed countries - which currently have far lower per-person car ownership and emissions than the West.
Toyota’s mission to increase the number of fossil fuelled cars on the road every year indefinitely goes in the opposite direction to the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to relatively safe levels of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which requires roughly halving outright global emissions before 2030 globally (and an even faster rate of reduction than this in wealthy countries that account for the bulk of cumulative historical emissions, such as the US, UK, and EU countries)
Faced with a stark contradiction of its business model with basic climate science, Toyota is prioritising growth in profits over planetary safety, by leading efforts to block climate action globally, pushing to weaken CO2 regulation, and prevent governments passing laws that put an end date to the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles.
Road transport is by far the largest oil consumption sector, and as the world's largest seller of cars, Toyota's decisions and lobbying stance have a direct impact on how fast the world transitions (or doesn't transition) away from this fossil fuel.
Toyota is not just the worst lobbyist amongst car companies - it has been ranked 3rd worst anti-climate lobbyist globally across all sectors by lobbying research group Influence Map - behind only Exxon and Chevron.
Meanwhile to the public it brands itself as a sustainable company by hiding behind its launch of the (100% fossil fuelled, just slightly more efficient) Prius 20 years ago, promoting false solutions like “hybrid” fossil fuelled cars and hydrogen cars, and co-opting big conservation organisations like WWF to greenwash itself.