Last week, Cummins’ executive team laid out a strategy to for its aspirations to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and the technology practices that could take the company there. It may sound ambitious, but it’s a goal that CEO Tom Linebarger insists is a necessity. For one, he believes the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement was a mistake.
“There’s really never been a more important time to think about environmental sustainability,” said Linebarger during a conference call. He went on to mention the growing issues of pollution, water scarcity, and threats to natural resources. “With the population growing, these things are only becoming more acute.”
To put into perspective, Janet McCabe, director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and former EPA administrator, was on the call. She mentioned how, according to Purdue University’s Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment, average temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years. Indiana can expect a further increase of 5 to 6 degrees by 2050 and potentially 10 degrees – due to greenhouse gases – by 2100.
“I appreciate even more … that a company, headquartered here in Indiana, is at the head of the line with an aggressive carbon reduction plan and the massive sustainability efforts, which come from a place of more responsibility and recognition that we have only one planet.”
That’s why it made sense for Cummins to call the ambitious plan “PLANET 2050” – an acronym that stands for: prosperity, leadership, advocacy, nurture, environment, and together.
Therein lies three priority areas the Cummins’ executive team discussed last week. Those include addressing and air emissions, improving communities, and finding a sustainable way to utilize natural resources.
For a comparatively shorter-term goal, Cummins intends to reduce absolute greenhouse gases from facilities and operations by 50 percent in the next 10 years. Ditto the volatile organic compounds from paint and coating operations.
But in terms of putting clean vehicles on the ground, Linebarger expressed that that technology may lie within hydrogen fuel cells. At the end of October, Cummins unveiled a heavy-duty, demonstration truck running on fuel cells and battery electric power. It boasted a range of 150 to 250 miles before filling – a range that could be extended with additional hydrogen tanks.
“There is no silver bullet,” Linebarger specified. Several technologies under development today aren’t yet economically viable and won’t even be the right solution in the future.
“If we are going to make a significant impact,” he continued, “we must reduce the environmental footprint of all the products in our portfolio today, as well as those in the future – from diesel to natural gas to electrified power and fuel cells.”
The ultimate goal for Cummins, in this regard, is to have zero tailpipe emissions. This dire thrust toward sustainability and pollution reduction on a global level is what McCabe said would be needed to arrive at a global increase of 2 degrees Fahrenheit, as opposed to 7 degrees.
“The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, we need to reach net zero emissions by 2050 in the U.S. and worldwide,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Net zero by 2050 is ambitious, but it’s achievable if we have a serious commitment, not just from governments, but also from businesses that want to be part of the solution.”
For more information on Cummins PLANET 2050 strategy, click here.