Date: April 19, 2021
I remember the first Earth Day. It was 1970 and I was designated to lead a small discussion in my 8th grade homeroom. I now realize that most of my classmates and I did not have a sufficient appreciation of the challenges facing the world.
As we approach April 22nd, this Earth Day will be different. One of President Biden’s first acts upon inauguration was to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement. The U.S. will host a worldwide virtual meeting of leaders to discuss climate commitment. This week, the U.S. is expected to announce a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% over the next 10 years and seek significant pledges from other governments. And, with the introduction of the Green New Deal, many progressive Democrats are pushing the President to do more.
Yet, what does Earth Day really mean for suppliers?
- This week, President Biden will announce a series of domestic climate commitments with an expected announcement of a domestic 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
- These goals may not specify the role transportation has but those details will follow quickly.
- The transportation legislation under consideration in Congress will most likely develop timelines for actions including electrification of the vehicle fleet.
What I Am Watching For?
- Who else will join the President and the environmental community is pushing for an aggressive agenda?
- The Green New Deal – who supports and who will raise concerns?
- Who will join with Senators Stabenow and Manchin calling for investment to help U.S. businesses make the pivot to the manufacture of new components and technologies?
- And who will take up the gauntlet for the Americans jobs that will change in this new net-zero carbon world?
What is the Role of Suppliers?
As I have considered our industry and Earth Day, I am struck by the daily commitment this industry makes to the improvement of our environment. These commitments range from technology development and deployment to reformulation and reevaluation of chemicals and raw materials to improve manufacturing practices and reducing waste. Our industry should be proud!
Suppliers Develop and Deploy Technologies that Increase Efficiency and Reduce Emissions
- The industry develops and produces a multitude of technologies and a wide range of products, materials, components, and systems that make vehicles more efficient and reduce vehicle emissions – PM, NOx, and GHG. Suppliers are committed to providing affordable emissions-reducing technologies for light, medium and heavy vehicles.
- The automotive supplier industry provides solutions for clean mobility, including the technologies for zero-emissions vehicles.
- Suppliers also create innovative integrated vehicle systems to further contribute to lower vehicle emissions besides traditional tail-pipe emissions control technologies, lightweighting, and alternative propulsion systems. Examples include advanced low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, regenerative braking technologies, advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and automated driving systems. These advanced safety technologies are designed to avoid or mitigate vehicle crashes which could result in traffic congestion, decreases idling and emissions. Optimizing driving routes can enhance vehicle fuel efficiency.
Suppliers Are Committed to Using Safer Chemicals for the Environment
- The industry is constantly reformulating and reevaluating chemicals to ensure they are using chemicals that are safe for the environment determined by TSCA, California’s Safer Consumer Product regulation, California’s Proposition 65, and various other state green chemistry regulations. MEMA members are committed to manufacturing products that use innovative chemicals that are beneficial to consumers and safe for the environment.
- Brake friction materials manufacturers have committed to a nationwide phase-out of copper and other constituents used in brake pads nationwide to support mitigating copper in surface water via stormwater runoff from roads which can be toxic in aquatic environments.
- The industry members that manufacture lead-acid batteries are committed to assuring that spent batteries are disposed of and recycled properly to assure a healthy environment for our communities and workers. We are proud that lead-acid batteries are one of the most recycled consumer products in the world with more than 99 percent of all lead in batteries used in North America is recycled.
Suppliers Reduce Waste
- Many of our members have sustainability goals and adhere to strict standards for sustainable manufacturing, waste restrictions, and general facility energy efficiency requirements.
- MEMA’s division, MERA, the Association for Sustainable Manufacturing, represents remanufacturers whose daily operations help protect the planet. Remanufacturing is a standardized industrial process by which previously sold, worn, or non-functional products are returned to same-as-new, or better condition and performance.
Is There More to Come?
Most assuredly. We know that the Biden administration, Congress, the vehicle manufacturers, and the world expects even greater environmental achievements from our industry. We know we must lean in and participate in mapping these challenges even as we recognize the need for investment in R&D, retooling, worker upskilling, infrastructure, and consumer incentives. We recognize that transportation is central to our country’s competitiveness and the ability of our fellow citizens to work and play. And we recognize there is a wide range of voices calling on our industry to act and act now.
My response to those voices is clear – we will act but we will advocate for a deliberate and transparent plan. I hope you will join us.