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Toyota Misleads Consumers in its “2023 Views on Climate Policy” Report

The company greenwashes and misconstrues data in its latest report on climate policies globally.

By East Peterson-Trujillo

Toyota has lobbied governments around the world to delay, weaken, and roll back regulations that would put more zero-emission vehicles on the road. The company’s efforts are so prolific, it was named the company with the third worst impact on climate policy globally, right after oil giants Chevron and ExxonMobil, by InfluenceMap in 2021. 

Yet reading the company’s latest report on its engagement in climate policy, released in January, you’d think Toyota executives had finally turned the corner on the company’s track record of anti-climate lobbying.

Public Citizen has taken a closer look, revealing that Toyota’s 2023 Views on Climate Policy obscures the company’s role in delaying the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Toyota presents many misleading claims that require debunking.

Toyota claims that it “supports the Paris Agreement and is conducting public policy engagement activities based on the scientific findings of the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] (IPCC).”

The Truth: For years, Toyota has actively lobbied against policies that would move the world closer to a zero-emissions.

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty to limit global warming to 2℃ or preferably 1.5℃, adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a multitude of reports since 2015 describing strategies to combat climate change.

Toyota claims, “the data shows a more effective approach to reduce more carbon sooner is to promote a multi-pathway strategy,” or to keep combustion engine hybrids in production.

The Truth: This broad claim about “data” does not include any reference to specific data sets, verified reports, or news coverage to verify the information.

The 2023 IPCC report, a well-researched and in-depth assessment of multiple data sources, states, “Electric vehicles powered by low-emissions electricity offer the largest decarbonisation potential for land-based transport, on a life cycle basis.” 

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are the best strategy to decarbonize passenger road transportation. The fact that Toyota only offers one of them does not mean that electric vehicles aren’t effective at reducing carbon emissions.

Toyota claims that it supports “regulations that are predictable, technology neutral, and that allow us to provide safe and affordable vehicles to our customers.”

The Truth: Toyota was ranked the automaker with the most negative impact on climate policy globally in 2021 and 2022

In July 2023, Toyota opposed the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger vehicles, asking EPA to reduce the goals for zero-emission vehicles.

In October 2023, the company opposed updated fuel efficiency standards for cars, advocating to maintain numerous flexibilities that would weaken the rules and keep polluting vehicles on the road longer. These rules have provided over $7,000 in fuel savings from the average vehicle over the past two decades and updates would reduce pollution by saving more than 88 billion gallons of gasoline through 2050.

Toyota claims that a 2022 IPCC report “states that in addition to BEVs powered by low emissions electricity, the use of sustainable biofuels, low emissions hydrogen, and derivatives (including synthetic fuels), and fuel efficiency improvements are also effective ways to mitigate GHG emissions.”

The Truth: This is misleading, and not based on the most updated and accurate data. The most recent IPCC report, from March 2023, says that, 

“Sustainable biofuels, low-emissions hydrogen, and derivatives (including synthetic fuels) can support mitigation of CO2 emissions from shipping, aviation, and heavy-duty land transport but require production process improvements and cost reductions.”

This section is in reference to “shipping, aviation, and heavy-duty land transport,” and not about passenger vehicles, which are Toyota’s main product.

While Toyota delays the transition to zero-emission vehicles at every turn, its claims about being a green company are deeply misleading. There is no room for Toyota’s delays in a just climate future.

Tell Toyota to put its anti-climate action in reverse. Sign Public Citizen’s petition to the CEO now.