Polestar has set the goal of producing the first climate-neutral car by 2030, eliminating emissions not only from driving, but from every aspect of production and sales.
The so-called "Polestar 0 Project" will genuinely eliminate emissions, not merely offset them with activities like planting trees, the automaker said in a press release.
"Offsetting is a cop-out," Polestar CEO Thomas Ingelath said in a statement. Many companies—including some automakers—have paid for the planting of trees as a way to cancel out carbon emissions from their operations, but forests are still vulnerable to fires and climate change, so their ability to soak up unlimited excess carbon dioxide from human activities isn't guaranteed, according to Polestar.
Planting also addresses only carbon-dioxide emissions, which is the goal of companies and governments looking to achieve carbon-neutral status. While the terms "carbon neutral" and "climate neutral" are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Climate neutral is a more impressive—and difficult—goal.
2021 Polestar 2
Instead of only addressing carbon-dioxide emissions, climate neutrality includes all greenhouse-gas emissions. Carbon dioxide is just one component of that, albeit a large one.
With the retirement of the Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid, the Volvo spinoff brand will move to an all-electric lineup. The next step in achieving climate-neutral status will be addressing emissions stemming from production, Fredrika Klarén, Polestar's head of sustainability, said in a statement.
Polestar last year pointed to "a disturbing lack of transparency" about EV carbon footprint, and has emphasized sustainability and the use of natural and recycled materials. But the jump to a true climate-neutral car will likely require a more general rethink of materials sourcing and manufacturing processes.
Polestar previously previewed its future in the form of the Zero concept, designed on its Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). A production version is already in the prototype stage, with deliveries anticipated in the last quarter of 2021.