Transport and Energy
Driving change

Shoichiro Toyoda describes what his company, and others, are doing to pioneer sustainable mobility

To the automobile industry, environmental issues are much more than something to be reckoned with as a result of regulations. The environment cannot be ignored, but must be dealt with proactively as the industry remakes itself in the 21st century.

This mindset led Toyota in April 2000 to redefine and reissue its Earth Charter, first published in 1992. Toyota’s basic principles, as defined in the new Earth Charter, are:

1 To contribute towards a prosperous 21st century society.

2 To pursue environmentally sound technologies.

3 To incorporate voluntary programmes.

4 To work in cooperation with society.

Based upon these principles, Toyota is implementing a consolidated environmental management plan among 425 supplier and subsidiary companies at home and abroad.

Toyota is of the opinion that major technological breakthroughs are needed to deal effectively with environmental issues in general and with global warming specifically. While it is true that besides improving conventional engine technology we have also achieved a revolutionary hybrid system, we must continue to pursue improvements in fuel efficiency. That means meeting new challenges and commercializing new technologies, such as fuel cells. At the same time, we must reach beyond the automobile as an independent product and use information technology and other new technologies to enable cars and traffic systems to work together in solving global warming issues, while offering greater convenience to motorists and society alike. In this way, the mobility we want and need can be achieved.
We must reach beyond the automobile as an independent product
One important development is occurring under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). This is the Sustainable Mobility Project, which goes beyond industry and corporate boundaries to provide a forum where the future of automobiles and human mobility can be addressed. The project is pursuing ways and scenarios that will define tomorrow’s mobility within society.

Some of the major companies that are members of the WBCSD are BP, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Michelin, Norsk Hydro, Shell, Volkswagen and Toyota. I join Mr. Harry J. Pierce, Vice Chairman, General Motors Corporation and Mr. Phil Watts, Group Managing Director, Royal Dutch/Shell Group as a co-chairman of the Sustainable Mobility Project.

Integrating the issues
The project, which began last year, will continue for three years and consider such issues as public health and safety, time lost as a result of traffic congestion, exhaust emissions and atmospheric pollution, changes in weather patterns, use of resources, waste treatment issues, effects on economic growth, and other issues affecting mobility. It will assess both the positive and negative effects of land, sea and air links, and examine whether they are sustainable and, if not, how they might be made so. Through this work, covering all the issues affecting mobility, the project will develop a vision aiming at sustainable mobility in 2030.

To increase confidence in the project, we will form an assurance group, consisting of eminent individuals and experts, to provide advice. This project does not plan to get stuck in the thinking of industry alone. Rather, the subject of mobility will be analysed and discussed from all angles. This will enable us to consider the fulfilment that is provided to humankind through mobility. Within the project, we are working hard to produce an interim report to be released in 2002 in advance of the Rio+10 conference; and the main and final report, Sustainable Mobility 2030, is planned to be released by mid-2003.

A key resource
In conclusion, I would like to add a personal observation. When speaking of industrial visions for the 21st century, sustainable development is a key phrase matching globalization and the information technology revolution in importance. Investment in the environment is most often made from the long-term view of harmonizing society and the natural environment. That means, of course, that the success of such endeavours depends greatly upon the perception of industrial executives. Therefore, the ability to develop practical ‘environmental’ programmes should be seen as a very important management resource

Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda is Honorary Chairman and Member of the Board of Toyota Motor Corporation.

PHOTOGRAPH: Hartmut Schwarzbach/Still Pictures

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Driving change | Clearing the bottlenecks | Commuting sustainably (Singapore) | Transported to the future (Curitiba, Brazil) | Bucking the trend (Freiburg, Germany) | Message from the UN Secretary-General | Message from Cuba | Message from Turin | Competition | Breaking free | Calling for change | Reaching the unreached | Greening the screen | Taking the lead | Wanted: more good reporters | On the dot | The city century

Complementary articles in other issues:
Jan Pronk: Nature’s warnings (Disasters) 2001
John Prescott: Gain not pain (The Environment Millenium) 2000
José María Figueres Olsen and Christiana Figueres: A climate of change (Beyond 2000) 2000
Tom Burke: The greening of Goliath (Beyond 2000) 2000
Claude Fussler: Clean = competitive (Hazardous waste) 1999
Colin Marshall: Change in the air (Tourism) 1999
Mark Moody-Stuart: Picking up the gauntlet (Climate and Action) 1998
John Browne: A new partnership to make a difference (Climate Change) 1997