Porsche rolls out carbon offsetting programme

The luxury car manufacturer Porsche announced plans for its Porsche Impact programme in December 2018, and has started rolling it out throughout this year. The programme, based on similar air and rail travel programmes, consists of an app that calculates Porsche owners’ personal carbon footprints based on mileage, model and specifics vehicle characteristics. The app generates a monetary figure that the owner can donate to a partnered energy or emissions project of his or her choice, to offset the car’s emissions through investment in new, clean energy. Currently, the projects include wind and solar energy production in the USA, Mexico, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, though the company has plans to invest in further projects in China and Europe.

Carbon offsetting projects have often been dismissed as “greenwashing” or a method of displaying corporate sustainability for public relations purposes without taking truly effective action. Sceptics argue that the practice gives consumers the impression that their consumption is free of environmental consequences, though the scale of individual offset schemes does not match the scale of global warming issues. While companies can gain recognition for sustainability efforts, detractors argue that these elective programmes shift climate responsibility onto consumers and away from corporations, who have much larger climate influence. Porsche addresses greenwashing concerns by outlining its partnership with South Pole, a sustainability financing provider, which has been involved in the programme, though exact details of the group’s involvement have not been provided.

As a member of the Volkswagen Group, Porsche and other Volkswagen Group members are acutely aware of the potential public relations consequences of an emissions scandal like 2015’s emissions cheating device scandal. Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was recently charged with fraud concerning the case. The rollout of the Porsche Impact programme comes alongside recent deals between Volkswagen and electric car charging software developer has·to·be GmbH (reported on here) as well as plans for the first fully electric Porsche sports car, the Taycan. Like its parent company Volkswagen, Porsche is in the early stages of developing its electric vehicle sector to match rising market demand and avoid public emissions criticisms.

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