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Climate Week NYC: Exponential Climate Action Summit

Time is running out. To stay within the 1.5-degree target, we need to take immediate action. In the quest for circularity, transitioning to electric transport is one of several imperative steps. This step calls for a change in behaviour, from people, businesses, and governments. Because frankly, we don’t have time not to.

The science is clear: we’re in the midst of a planetary crisis. We can’t keep doing business as usual. We need change now.

To discuss what can be done to create truly sustainable mobility in a circular economy, we were invited to take a (virtual) panel seat at Exponential Climate Action Summit, broadcasted by We Don’t Have Time during Climate Week NYC. Thursday, September 23rd saw us participate in a live event entitled “Circularity and the Race to Zero”, viewed by over 8.8 million people worldwide. 

The participants were Polestar Head of Sustainability Fredrika Klarén,  Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, and Carly Gilbert-Patrick, leading the UN Environment's Share the Road Programme.

While the electric revolution is underway, public data indicates that transport worldwide accounts for over a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. With this in mind, moderator Catarina Rolfsdotter-Jansson opened the conversation by letting the speakers give their thoughts on the current transition to electrification.

“There will always be a need for cars. None of the solutions we have today are necessarily perfect, but electric is the way to go. We have to be open with that,” stated Carly Gilbert-Patrick. 

Fredrika Klarén added: “The transition to electrification is not happening fast enough. We cannot only rely on disruptive technologies; we have to look to the power of behavioural change. We’d like to see ourselves as a player in a new, more circular mobility eco-system.”

To encourage said behavioural change, the automotive industry must empower its customers to understand both the impact that cars have and the impact of their purchasing decisions through greater transparency.

LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments), which Polestar is performing to determine the lifetime carbon footprint of all our current and future models, were brought up as a powerful tool to measure the impacts throughout a product’s life while enabling consumers to make informed choices.

“We want to make sure that our consumers are aware that our cars come with a debt and what they can do to secure that it stays as low as possible. This is not only done by charging green, but also by securing a high utilisation degree. By doing so, customers can secure that we don’t overproduce cars,” affirmed Klarén.

Robin Chase stressed that technology is enabling us to become multimodal in that we can choose to walk, bike, take public transport or the car. “We’ve built our entire infrastructure to make cars the easy choice, reducing the viability of going by other modes. That has caused huge problems to date. However, technology allows us to take the right vehicle for each particular trip.”

The panellists emphasized that current measures don’t align themselves with the 1.5-degree ambition and called on decision-makers, businesses, and the public to take immediate action.

“We need bold decision-makers, both from a business and policy perspective. However, companies and policymakers do what the customers and voters tell them to do. So, it’s also up to each and every one of us to be more outspoken about what we want and put more pressure on companies and politicians,” stated Klarén.

Gilbert-Patrick continued: “The science is clear: we’re in the midst of a planetary crisis. It’s affecting the climate, nature, and pollution levels. We can’t keep doing business as usual. We need change now.”

Klarén closed the panel by asserting that for Polestar, it’s crucial to be a part of and spearhead a movement that is going in the right direction, through initiatives like the Polestar 0 project, our moon-shot goal to create a truly climate-neutral car by 2030. 

“Producing this car will take all the nerdiness, design sensibility and love of innovation and technology that we have. And we’re going to be fully transparent on the journey,” she explains.

Transitioning to electric transport is one of several imperative steps towards circularity. People, businesses, and governments all need to change their behaviours and take immediate action. To anyone arguing otherwise, the answer is simple: we don’t have time.

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The importance of perspective with Juhani Lehtimäki

Perspective is everything. Travelling by plane is a blast for those who have only ever travelled by car. It’s mundane for astronauts. Electric driving is clearly the superior experience in our opinion. But we make electric cars. How do former petrol-heads feel about it? Android developers with an interest in driving? People who take road trips from Bavaria to Schleswig-Holstein and back, with a brief detour in Finland? What are their thoughts on Polestar 2?

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