States and regions are racing towards a clean transport future

Reading time: 4 minutes
12 December 2018

With the support of the Scottish Government, the Under2 Coalition Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Project has connected over 50 subnational governments and created a space for exchange around innovative policies to accelerate the uptake of zero emission vehicles. In this blog, Juliette Baralon, Under2 ZEV Project Officer, looks back at what has been achieved to date – and the remaining barriers to address.

Tackling emissions from the transport sector

The transition to a clean transport future is more important than ever; transport is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change, currently accounting for 23% of global energy-related emissions. It is also a leading cause of air pollution, which is estimated to have caused approximately 4.2 million premature deaths globally in 2015. By switching to zero emission vehicles, governments are not only supporting the move towards a world of well below 2°C, but they are also acting to mitigate the considerable impacts of the transportation sector on public health.

States and regions are at the forefront of clean transport action. At the Global Climate Action Summit, 13 states and regions stepped up and joined the ZEV Challenge, therefore committing to transitioning their own fleets, developing charging infrastructure, and providing appropriate financial and non-financial incentives to consumers.

Sharing experiences to accelerate action

In June, we launched the Under2 Coalition ZEV Project to move from the leadership of a few pioneering governments to a world where innovative ZEV policies and initiatives are a core aspect of subnational decarbonization strategies.

The following seven months have seen regular exchanges around key challenges that states and regions around the world are facing: how to support the adoption of ZEVs by businesses, develop comprehensive charging networks, and lead by example by converting public fleets.

Governments including Québec, Scotland, Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia and New York State shared their innovative solutions to a global audience, with participants from Latin America to Asia, all at various stages of their ZEV transition journey but keen to learn from their peers.

Through case studies and news stories, we highlighted inspiring policies and programs implemented around the world: from the ambitious roadmap drafted by Scotland to eliminate the need for new diesel and petrol cars by 2032, to Navarra’s efforts to bring the private sector onboard, and highly innovative technologies to decarbonize freight in Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein and electrify ferries in Washington State.

We’ve also looked beyond state and regional leadership, with EV100 company members Vattenfall and Heathrow stepping up to share their experience with government representatives.

The next barriers

Highlighting and sharing successes does not mean overlooking barriers – and what more remains to be done. To complement limited public resources, states and regions can leverage key private investment in ZEV technologies and charging infrastructure. While ZEVs are still on average more expensive than petrol and diesel vehicles, they can use their large purchasing power and transition their fleets to drive costs down and bring more models to the market. And to tackle low consumer awareness, they must engage citizens with targeted awareness campaigns. While states and regions are and must keep on leading by example, they will move faster by joining forces on these challenges with other key stakeholders, such as cities and businesses.

That’s what we will be working towards in 2019: more exchanges around some of these tricky issues, including raising public awareness and building local ZEV supply chains, and new partnerships between stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The time for action is now – and we hope more governments and companies will join us.

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