For automotive companies, the bulk of carbon emissions occur after their customers have driven off the sales lot.
In 2010, Honda calculated the carbon emissions that result over the lifecycle of its products. It found that manufacturing accounts for only 6% of the total but customers driving their cars and motorbikes accounts for 83%.  So for the company to reduce its impact on climate change, Honda needed to drastically shrink the emissions from the use of its products.
To do that, the company has set two targets. The first is to lower average emissions intensity during customer use of motorcycles, automobiles and power products (like engines and lawnmowers) by 30% worldwide, compared to 2000. Honda has given itself until 2020 to do it.
The second target is to cut the company’s emissions in half by 2050, compared to 2000.
Honda is driving this forward with a three-part action plan: first, by making internal combustion engines more efficient; second, by using new environmental technology and diversifying the fuel sources for their products; and third, using renewable energy and managing their overall energy use. The ultimate goal is elimination of CO2 emissions from the company. This is ambitious, but without an end point it is hard to see Honda arriving at zero emissions in the timeframe set out by science.
Honda has a history of setting strong emissions targets and making progress toward them.
But now it’s shifting it up a gear. It’s working with CDP and is signed up to the Road to Paris Science-Based Targets Initiative to set even better targets. These targets will be ambitious and aligned to what the science tells us business needs to do to stay within two degrees of warming.
The company is developing new products that use alternative energy sources, like electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles and the energy-efficient Honda Smart Home System. In fact, earlier this year, Honda unveiled a fuel cell concept car and announced it will be mass-producing them by 2020. With a 300-mile range and zero emissions, this would put Honda on the right road for emissions elimination.
Although Honda is focussing on its product emissions, other areas have not been forgotten. The newly built Yorii automobile plant, for example, is the world’s most energy-efficient car plant. The Japanese plant is a launch pad for innovative technology to be transmitted to Honda manufacturing worldwide. The company is also using renewable energy to power its facilities and lower energy risk.
Honda became the first automaker in Brazil to launch its own wind generation business and power the Sumaré Automobile Plant in Brazil with 100% wind energy.
What does this mean in terms of emissions? In the 2015 financial year, Honda made good progress towards its 2020 targets. It cut emissions from its motorcycle range by 33.7%, automobiles by 20.8% and 13.3% for power products. Customers driving a Honda off the sales lot can allow Honda to take the wheel in steering the world’s personal transport industry to a two degrees track.