Auto parts giant Holden is halting production of some of the cars it makes at its UK plant after its bosses said the planet’s climate change was the reason.
The decision came after the head of the company, Mark Davison, told MPs that emissions from new vehicles were increasing because of the burning of coal for electricity.
“The climate is changing and as a consequence of that, we have to be thinking about how we can adapt,” Mr Davison said.
“There is a significant impact on how we are operating our plants.”
Mr Davison’s comments followed reports in the Guardian and the Observer that the company had announced that it would cease production of the Opel Astra, the Opal, and the Opus.
Holden said it had also stopped production of certain Opel vehicles, including the Holden Cascadia.
It said that by 2020, it planned to produce about 1.6 million vehicles globally, down from about 3 million in 2020.
Mr Davisons told the Commons environment committee that the Opels would remain in production for about six more years, but stopped short of specifying when the Opals would be retired.
The company’s chief executive, John Butler, told the committee the company was considering whether it should consider retiring some of Holden’s more expensive models.
“It’s important that we get our strategy right, that we take the right steps, that it’s not just about us but also about the future of the industry,” he said.
“We will look at all options, including whether to retire some of our more expensive products.”
Mr Butler also said that it was a “significant decision” to cut the Opela, Holden’s biggest car.
“What we’ve learned is that we’re in a climate where the demand for those vehicles is not there,” he told the MPs.
“That is the reality of the situation.”
Mr Davidson told the BBC’s Today programme that it appeared that the decision was a result of a “climate change issue” and that he hoped it would not impact the production of any other carmaker.
“I think it’s a significant decision,” he added.
“It’s a difficult thing to say at this stage, but I think it reflects the reality that it is very difficult to get a company to do something that’s economically viable.”‘
This is a decision that I take very seriously’Speaking on the BBC programme, Mr Butler said he was aware of the risks to the environment caused by new vehicles being built in the UK.
“This is not a decision I take lightly,” he acknowledged.
“At the moment I can’t see any reason why any car company wouldn’t do this.”
He said the Opla, Holden Caffi, and Opel Voyager were still being built and would continue to do so, but that “it was not an option for us at the moment”.
“This was a decision we took very seriously,” he continued.
“This is the most difficult decision we have had to make, and I think the company has taken it very seriously.”
Mr Lawson said the company’s decision was made in consultation with all stakeholders.
“To say that we are not going to build cars in the United Kingdom is simply not the case,” he explained.
“There are some other countries where they are very much making decisions, and they have got the best of it, so this is an important decision that we have taken in consultation.”
He also criticised the “totally inappropriate” comments of Mr Davisons, saying that the politician should “consider the impact of climate change”.
“I have spoken to Mark Davisons directly, and he has been very clear, that climate change is the reason why we have not been able to meet the climate targets,” Mr Lawson said.
The Prime Minister has previously said the government would be taking action on climate change.