Facebook posts – The World Economic Forum did not say people shouldn’t own cars

Facebook posts – The World Economic Forum did not say people shouldn’t own cars

Car travel has for several decades become a vital part of everyday life for many, enabling last-minute local grocery shopping and road trips to faraway places. But a Facebook post is claiming the World Economic Forum, or WEF, wants to change that.

The Sept. 8 post included a screenshot of a social media post sharing a news article about how the organization published a paper advocating for the end of “wasteful private car ownership.”

“Only the elite will own vehicles and enjoy individual travel,” the post in the screenshot says in all capital letters.

But that headline distorts what the World Economic Forum has said. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The article’s headline, “World Economic Forum Calls to End ‘Wasteful’ Private Car Ownership,” comes from Neon Nettle, a British website accused of posting inflammatory stories and misinformation. 

The original Neon Nettle article said the World Economic Forum believes there are too many privately owned cars for the planet’s good, and that people should share cars to lessen demand for fossil fuels and precious metals.

Although the article is right that the World Economic Forum wants to encourage car sharing, its headline exaggerates the organization’s position. 

Yann Zopf, head of media for the World Economic Forum, said both the Facebook post and the Neon Nettle article are “factually wrong” as the organization never directly advocated for ending private car ownership.

The World Economic Forum article Neon Nettle cites is titled “3 circular economy approaches to reduce demand for critical metals.” The article was born out of the forum’s commitment to promote a “circular economy,” which aims to eliminate waste by recycling, reusing and sharing resources. 

Zopf said, “In this article, there are several suggestions for potential solutions including increased car sharing.”

The forum’s article detailed ways society can stave off a shortage of the precious metals used in clean energy technologies. Among its suggestions was “a broader transition from ownership to usership.” This would, the article argued, help reduce the number of undriven cars and conserve precious metals. The World Economic Forum pointed to data showing the average car or van in England is driven just 4% of the time, which is not “resource-efficient.”

“More sharing can reduce ownership of idle equipment and thus material usage,” the WEF said. 

The forum’s article said companies, including Getaround and BlueSG, have emerged to let consumers pay by the hour to use cars. The article also recommended design changes, such as keyless car entry technology, to encourage car sharing. “This is the mindset needed to redesign cities to reduce private vehicles and other usages,” the paper said. 

Furthermore, the forum suggested repurposing some car technologies, such as electric car batteries, which it said can have up to 80% capacity remaining when they are replaced. 

Our ruling

A Facebook post shared a screenshot claiming the World Economic Forum is calling for the end of private car ownership.

This is an overreach.

The World Economic Forum published an article on its website that suggested a number of ways to transition from private car ownership to usership, but a Facebook post misinterprets the article’s message. Although the forum encouraged car-sharing to reduce the number of unused cars and free resources for other uses, it neither calls for the end of private car ownership nor suggests elites should be alone in owning cars. 

We rate this claim Mostly False. 

Source: PolitiFact.

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