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How to reduce emissions during the production process

Paid for by Polestar

The electrification of the transportation industry has long been seen as critical in the goal toward a carbon neutral future. Currently, the transportation industry is one of the largest contributors to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike gas-powered vehicles, however, electric vehicles release very low (or no) tailpipe emissions, minimizing carbon pollution. 

But even as electric vehicles reach the mainstream, their usage is only one part of a staggeringly complex multi-pronged effort to reach carbon neutrality.

As carbon neutrality has become the goal of many companies, manufacturers such as Polestar, an electric performance car brand, are showing that it’s not enough to simply look at the finished product. Instead, carbon neutrality demands transparency, cooperation and innovation from product conception to release to market. Here’s how carbon neutrality begins — even before the production process. 

Neutrality begins with transparency
Today, green focused companies may plant trees as a strategy to help offset harmful emissions produced by manufacturing. But what if an entire supply chain and production process was reimagined so that minimal harm would come to the planet? It’s an undertaking that requires taking stock of every aspect of the supply chain, including assessing raw materials, and considering how the lifespan of the product will impact the planet. Not only does this audit give consumers a clear perspective of how their choices impact the planet, it pinpoints opportunities for innovation. 

But this begins with transparency. For example, Polestar has committed to publish the lifetime carbon footprint of all new vehicles. Starting with the Polestar 2 launched in 2019, Polestar has created a Life Cycle Assessment of the vehicle, considering a range of factors in the car’s life cycle, from supply to manufacturing to recycling. This impact is then summarized in one comprehensive number. Polestar calls on the rest of the auto industry to do similarly to open a worldwide conversation about transparency in the manufacturing process.

Sustainability on the supply chain begins with blockchain
Technology advances can create ripple effects across industries. Take, for example, blockchain technology, the technology that decentralizes data storage. Unlike storage that exists on specific platforms, data is stored in a ledger system — the blockchain — that cannot be created or destroyed. When applied to supply chain monitoring, this ultra transparent data management system is revolutionary.

Instead of working across multiple platforms, blockchain can help a manufacturer trace materials from their origin to the factory, no matter how many points they may touch along the way. This allows for full transparency when it comes to the source of original materials, and can highlight any potentially problematic areas along the materials path in terms of environmental or human rights impact. 

For example, Polestar has begun using blockchain technology to trace cobalt, a material used within the car battery, as part of its supply chain strategy for Polestar 2. Cobalt can be a potentially problematic source material because of the mining methods used in sourcing, which can have an environmental impact. But Polestar aims to extend this scope to trace nickel, mica, manganese, graphite, lithium, and more. Being able to trace source materials can provide transparency in where materials are sourced from the point of extraction. Traceability of source materials can help all manufacturers make informed decisions from mine to manufacturer, pivoting toward mines that are anchored in sustainable practices that prioritize human rights and make minimal environmental impact.


A consumer shift in perspective
While the technology is there to bring the world toward a carbon neutral future, one hurdle across industries is consumer behavior. 

 “The things that we humans do, here on Earth, add up and can have a large impact overall — both positively and negatively,” says Karen Nyberg, a retired U.S. astronaut who appeared in Polestar’s latest brand campaign. As an astronaut who spent 180 days in orbit, she experienced what astronauts often refer to as “the overview effect,” the feeling of looking down at Earth and realizing the juxtaposition of the planet’s relative vulnerability compared to the strength and spirit of humanity as a whole. 

 Nyberg realized that sharing her experience of what the overview effect means to her could inspire other people to make a change, too. “My hope and desire would be for people to feel compassion and empathy for our beautiful planet and feel inspired to want to make a positive change. To understand that if each of us takes small steps to do better and be more mindful, it will add up to positive change for Earth and future generations,” she says. 

As carbon neutrality becomes a rallying cry across the public and private sectors, a holistic approach toward a greener planet becomes essential. By focusing on every aspect of the life cycle of a vehicle — from raw material sourcing to expanding a customer base — Polestar is creating a new framework in approaching sustainability that requires adoption of new technologies, expansion of existing ones and imagination. 

From Polestar:

Polestar is determined to improve the society we live in, using design and tech to accelerate the change to sustainable, electric mobility. With minimalistic design, innovative technology and materials, and hybrid powertrain, it offers a unique driving experience. To learn more about Polestar, click here.