A renewed sense of energy and movement is afoot in both the public and private sectors to reduce carbon emissions, the primary driver of climate change. The Biden administration is set to announce an aggressive new emissions goal at the 2021 global climate summit that kicks off tomorrow. Many corporations support this goal – including Volvo Cars, which today announced a bold initiative to significantly ramp up its reusing and recycling efforts.
These developments indicate Biden's plan aims to cut U.S. emissions by almost 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. It’s a goal similar to one set by the Obama government a few years ago. As part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the Obama administration committed to cut U.S. emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025.
Although details have yet to be released on just how the Biden administration will enforce and achieve its objective, experts believe that most of the changes will target emissions from cars and power plants. Further, they think it will create sweeping changes to our current methods of transportation and energy use.
Corporations in the private sector have historically fought against such regulations but have as of late encouraged governmental actions. Earlier this month, a group of 300 corporate leaders asked the Biden administration for just such a goal. They included CEOs from companies such as Target, Google, McDonald's, Walmart, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Exelon.
Volvo Cars, which has committed to becoming a climate-neutral company by 2040, is thinking more significantly than merely reducing tailpipe emissions when its customers drive its cars. Rather, the company is reimagining the entire life cycle of a vehicle, from mining the materials needed for manufacture to the recycling of materials after the car has outlived its usability.
As part of these initiatives, Volvo announced today that it aims to be a circular business by 2040; it will accomplish this by reusing and recycling rather than mining and processing new materials. Almost every facet of each of its vehicles will be designed to be reused by either Volvo or its suppliers.
For instance, Volvo shared plans for how the sizable battery packs from its electric cars will be used in their second life cycles. Some of these batteries will support a solar-powered energy storage system that powers charging stations for electric cars and electric bikes at a business center outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. Another use employs batteries as "fast balancing" supplies to the power system of a hydropower facility.
Last year, Volvo claims it remanufactured 40,000 parts, which prevented 3,000 tonnes (3,307 U.S. tons) of carbon emissions. By 2025, the company seeks to reduce its emissions by 2.5 million tonnes (nearly 2.8 million U.S. tons) by recycling and reusing. Volvo says this will further result in a savings of almost $120 million.
Recycling and reusing materials will reduce environmental impact and save money, especially for emissions-heavy materials, such as aluminum and steel.
Biden’s upcoming announcement is expected to be the clearest signal yet that the United States is ready to resume a leadership role in the global efforts to fight climate change.