Strong momentum for low carbon transport at COP22

Corporate leadership is a crucial driver for the transition
Reading time: 5 minutes
18 November 2016

by Sandra Roling, Head of EV100, The Climate Group

If there is one thing that this year’s COP22 climate negotiations in Marrakech have demonstrated, it is that the non-state actor agenda is here to stay. Throughout the two weeks, businesses, regions and cities have demonstrated strong leadership, showcasing important achievements over the past year, and developing the joint vision for the medium- and long-term.

One area which is clearly gaining increasing momentum is the transport sector. Accounting for 15% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the sector is not only one of the largest contributors to climate change, but also the fastest growing – forecast to potentially double by 2050 as global demand for motorized road transport swells. Decarbonizing transport is a crucial priority for keeping us on a below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius trajectory – as well as a major opportunity for building better transport systems for citizens, and reaping important co-benefits such as tackling the growing health concerns around air pollution.

This issue is gaining increasing momentum in the international climate context. For the first time, this COP included a dedicated meeting of Transport Ministers followed by a CEO roundtable on the topic, and a roadmap towards net zero emissions transport by 2060 was presented as part of the Global Climate Action agenda.

Electro-mobility presents a particular growth opportunity in this context. According to the International Energy Agency’s latest Global EV Outlook 2016, EVs crossed the 1,000,000 vehicle threshold last year, with electric cars reaching market shares of 23% and nearly 10% respectively in leading countries like Norway and the Netherlands. China is the global lead market ahead of the US in terms of total sales, also leading on the deployment of electric two-wheelers and buses.

With all major car manufactures now offering electric vehicle models, and battery capacities rapidly increasing, electro-mobility is becoming a viable solution in many contexts, but further market signals are needed to drive the transition at the pace needed. CEM EVI members Canada, China, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, UK and US set a crucial example at COP22 by pledging to increase the share of electric vehicles in their government fleets

Similar leadership is emerging from the corporate sector: companies setting science-based targets to align their emissions with a below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius global trajectory understand that acting on transport is crucial to credible climate leadership. And there are cost benefits to be gained, too. Already in 2012, our Plugged-in Fleets report demonstrated that EVs can be cost-competitive in many use cases if the whole life cycle is considered.

A crucial driver that was also very much at the forefront of discussions in Marrakech is the growing concern around air pollution – companies with low or zero-emissions fleets are setting themselves up for a major competitive advantage as a growing number mayors consider restricting city canters for polluting vehicles.

In addition to transforming their own fleets, companies can play a major role in enabling their staff and customers to use electric vehicles. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrates that almost 90% of private vehicles on the road in the US could be replaced with affordable electric cars today without any loss of convenience to their owners. By offering easy access to charging infrastructure, businesses position themselves as innovation leaders to high-potential employees and customers who increasingly care about climate issues issues. The US Department of Energy’s workplace charging program, for example, has already supported hundreds of companies and institutions to make the necessary investments

Further momentum can be generated by connecting this emerging leadership. Following the successful model of its RE100 and EP100 initiatives, The Climate Group is developing a global platform for companies to make a public commitment to EV uptake and benefit from peer-to-peer learning and stakeholder dialogue to help them achieve their targets.

For further information, please contact sroling@theclimategroup.org

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