Accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles

Business Insights

Much has been written and spoken about the UN climate summit, COP26 which recently took place in Glasgow. Most of us accept that the numerous pledges and intentions sound good, but inevitably, question whether the pace of change is sufficient. However, with road transport accounting for 10% of global emissions, and with those emissions rising faster than those of any other sector, there is a firm consensus that action on accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles is urgently needed.

During COP26, ministers and representatives from some of the world’s largest and most progressive car markets, California, Canada, Denmark, European Commission, France, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Korea and Sweden, and the United Kingdom, came together to form a new Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council.

Hosted by the COP26 President, Alok Sharma, the Council met to discuss how to accelerate the pace of the global transition to zero emission vehicles, recognising that as representatives of governments whose markets collectively account for around half of all new vehicle sales globally that they have a unique responsibility.

The Council agreed to collectively address some of the key challenges in the transition to ZEVs, enabling the transition to be faster, cheaper, and easier for all. They accepted that with road transport accounting for such a high proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the accelerating rise of such emissions, a rapid global transition to zero emission vehicles is vital to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. They sat that dramatically increasing the pace of the global transition will also offer huge opportunities for jobs and growth, cleaner air, improved public health, and could also boost energy security and help balance electricity grids as we make the transition to clean power.

The Council has agreed to use the forum to coordinate their efforts. They agreed to act together to overcome strategic, political and technical barriers, accelerate the production of zero emission vehicles, and increase economies of scale. They have committed to boosting investment, bringing down costs and to increase the uptake of zero emission vehicles and the many economic, social and environmental benefits it brings.

They will be focussing on the role of zero emission technologies and key policies, while also considering the roles of alternative technologies in the transition, especially alternative fuels such as solar and green hydrogen. As we move to electrify transport,we need hydrogen to clean up those sectors that cannot be decarbonised through batteries alone.

They also want to ensure that the enabling infrastructure is in place, including electric vehicle charge points and hydrogen vehicle re-fuelling, in the context of decarbonising the power sector and growing the hydrogen economy. Refuelling sites that offer integrated green hydrogen, liquefied natural gas and solar EV charging are the future of road transport.

They will work to ensure that the lifecycle (from production to scrapping) of zero emission vehicles, currently very carbon intensive, is sustainable and inclusive, and ensure that the transition to zero emission vehicles is truly global, leaving no country or region behind.

To support the transition to zero emission vehicles and cleaner air, we are all called upon to play our part. Countries and states shouldcommit to ensuring all new car and van sales are zero emission by 2035 (advanced markets) or 2040 (all other markets) and put in place policies to accelerate uptake of zero emission cars, vans, buses and trucks.

Vehicle manufacturers shouldcommit to selling only zero emission vehicles by 2035 or earlier. Fleet-owning businesses should commit to achieving a fully zero emission fleet by 2030 or earlier, and join the EV100 initiative, a global movement bringing together forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles (EVs). While wider civil society needs to show support for the measures that will move us all to a cleaner greener world by adopting zero transmission vehicle technologies.

The Council recognises that the decisions they make today will be critical for laying the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth. As such, they commit to ensuring that their recovery plans support an accelerated transition to zero emission vehicles as part of broader efforts to boost growth and employment, while promoting cleaner and more sustainable economies.