TOP > ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVITIES TOP > Environmental Approach > Ultimate Goal and Key Issues

Ultimate Goal and Key Issues

The increasing global population and the rapid growth of the world economy have effects on the global environment, from environmental degradation and climate change to issues of supply and demand of energy, resources, water and food. According to a United Nations forecast, by 2050 the global population will have grown from the present 7 billion to an estimated 9 billion, with 70% of the population living in cities. The demand for natural resources and energy will increase significantly.
Ensuring the balance of economic growth and the natural environment is a major challenge facing humankind as we continue to pursue personal and collective prosperity. The automobile industry must work not only to help reduce CO2 emissions, but also to reinvent its business structures to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

As a global automaker, Nissan takes active steps to identify the direct and indirect impacts of its business on the environment to help minimize them. Our goal is to reduce the environmental impact caused by our operations and Nissan vehicles throughout their lifecycle to a level that can be absorbed naturally by the Earth by promoting effective use and recycling of energy and resources.

Climate Change/Energy

Automobiles depend almost entirely on oil for energy. The consumption of oil has been linked to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases and to the degradation of the ecosystem through the drilling of oil wells and contamination of water and soil during transport. Such impact may be reduced through either improvements in energy efficiency or a shift to alternative energies.

Nissan's approach to CO2 emissions reductions

We believe that technology has a significant role to play in steadily reducing CO2. It is currently difficult, however, to reduce CO2 emissions to a sustainable level with technology alone. This is something that requires cooperative efforts by all of society. We believe that technologies with superior environmental performance are not those that pursue CO2 reductions only, but those that provide good basic performance at reasonable cost so that they will be widely used. Without this, real sustainability is impossible.
Based on this awareness, we are working to minimize CO2 emissions at every stage, from the time of development to production, distribution, sales, vehicle use and end-of-life recycling, and hope these efforts will lead to steps contributing to a sustainable society.

Reducing tailpipe CO2 emissions from three sides: the vehicle, driver, and traffic conditions

The level of CO2 emitted while driving is influenced not only by a vehicle's performance and type of fuel but also by how a car is driven and traffic conditions. Nissan thus approaches CO2 reduction of vehicles in operation from three sides: the vehicle, driver, and traffic conditions. With the aim of effectively reducing tailpipe CO2 emissions, we are working to develop and popularize low emission vehicles. At the same time, we are making efforts to educate customers on eco-driving and working with governments, local communities, and other industries to improve traffic conditions, such as by easing congestion with the use of intelligent transport systems that take advantage of IT.

See the following for information about our specific actions.

Effective and efficient technical development through collaborations

Reducing CO2 emissions is an important responsibility for any automaker, but this is a task that requires vast human and monetary resources for research and development. Making best use of the advantages of our Alliance with Renault, our research and development is conducted effectively and efficiently. Developing common platforms and sharing and apportioning the development of engines and transmissions are ways in which the Alliance helps us to reduce CO2 emissions. The M9R clean diesel engine is a product of our Alliance with Renault.
In January 2013, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. under the Alliance with Renault, have signed an agreement for the joint development of common fuel cell system. The goal of the collaboration is to jointly develop a common fuel cell electric vehicle system while reducing investment costs associated with the engineering of the technology, and deriving efficiencies through economies of scale, and will help to launch the world's first affordable, mass-market Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) as early as 2017.

Resource Recycling

Nissan's Goals for the Resource Cycle

Demand for mineral resources is growing rapidly as emerging countries develop economically. Some predictions forecast that all currently known mineral resources will have been extracted by 2050 if present trends continue. Some mining sites currently in operation and new exploration sites are located in areas where local ecosystems need to be preserved, and there is concern about the environmental effects of topsoil excavation, deforestation and wastewater.
Nissan is taking measures to address these issues. We are increasing use of renewable resources and recycled materials in addition to the traditional approach of using resources more efficiently to reduce reliance on them. Our efforts with respect to recycled materials are based on the thinking that once a natural resource is extracted it should continue to be used, while maintaining quality, to minimize environmental impact. We have set a target of increasing the usage rate for recycled materials per vehicle to 25% by fiscal 2016.

Raising the Recovery Rate

To optimize processing and improve the recovery rate for end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), Nissan carries out experimental studies to develop more efficient ways of dismantling its cars. To date, such research has focused on establishing methods of processing waste oil, waste liquids, lead and other substances that impact the environment. We are presently researching ways to increase the recovery rate further in order to reclaim and reuse valuable materials from ELVs. Feedback from the studies has led to improvements in dismantling techniques and has aided our product design division in choosing suitable materials and designing vehicles that are easier to dismantle. As of fiscal 2012, our own calculations showed that we had achieved a recovery rate of 99.3% in Japan.

Protecting the Air, Water, Soil and Biodiversity

The United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report issued in 2005 concluded that the ecosystem services evaluated had degraded over the past 50 years. Many scientists believe that humans have changed the Earth's ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in history. Humankind depends on a number of ecosystem services, including provision of food and fresh water, climate regulation and protection from natural disasters. Industry must recognize not just its impact on ecosystems but also its dependence on these services. Companies today face the pressing need to balance environmental preservation and economic progress as they pursue their business activities.
We focus on the impact given to the air, soil, water and biodiversity by our cars over their entire life cycles, and by our corporate activities. We are dedicated to bringing this burden as close to zero as possible, to creating new value for our customers and society, and to developing technologies that make this all possible.
We have worked to quickly introduce on the market vehicles that comply with various government regulations-emission regulations, restrictions on the use of substances that affect water and soil when the vehicle is disposed of at the end of its life, and reductions in volatile organic compounds (VOCs*1) in vehicle cabins-as well as to meet our own voluntary targets that are even stricter than those regulations.
Tailpipe emission levels of today's cleanest gasoline vehicles have been reduced to 1/100 with U-LEV*2 and 1/250 with SU-LEV*3 compared with vehicles made in the 1970s when regulations were first introduced.

  • *1 VOCs: Volatile organic compounds. These are organic compounds, such as formaldehyde and toluene, that evaporate readily at normal temperatures.
  • *2 U-LEV: Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle. A vehicle producing 50% less nitrogen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbon (HC) than the level prescribed in the 2005 emission standards.
  • *3 SU-LEV Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle. A vehicle producing 75% less nitrogen oxide (NOx) and hydrocarbon (HC) than the level prescribed in the 2005 emission standards.

Go back to top of this page