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COP26: Zero emission car and van deal signed

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A landmark deal on zero emission cars and vans has been unveiled today to coincide with Transport Day at COP26, with leaders committing to working towards 100% zero emission new car and van sales by 2040 or earlier.

Twenty-four countries, six major vehicle manufacturers – GM, Ford, Mercedes, BYD, Volvo and JLR – 39 cities, states and regions, 28 fleets and 13 investors all jointly set out their determination for all new car and van sales to be zero emission by 2040 globally and 2035 in leading markets.

In this group, companies like Sainsbury’s and countries including Uruguay, El Salvador and New Zealand are today making new commitments to 100% zero emission vehicles.

They follow proposals made by the EU, Chile, Canada and a number of US states this year to ensure all new cars are zero emission by 2035.

Also announced today, a number of emerging markets and developing economies have committed to work to accelerate the adoption of zero emission vehicles in their markets, including India, Ghana, Kenya, Paraguay, Rwanda and Turkey.

The full pledge and signatories are available to view online, but includes:

  • As governments, we will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission by 2040 or earlier, or by no later than 2035 in leading markets.
  • As cities, states, and regional governments, we will work towards converting our owned or leased car and van fleets to zero emission vehicles by 2035 at the latest, as well as putting in place policies that will enable, accelerate, or otherwise incentivise the transition to zero emission vehicles as soon as possible, to the extent possible given our jurisdictional powers.
  • As automotive manufacturers, we will work towards reaching 100% zero emission new car and van sales in leading markets by 2035 or earlier, supported by a business strategy that is in line with achieving this ambition, as we help build customer demand.
  • As business fleet owners and operators, or shared mobility platforms, we will work towards 100% of our car and van fleets being zero emission vehicles by 2030, or earlier where markets allow.

Helen Clarkson, CEO of international non-profit, Climate Group, said: “COP26 marks the end of the road for the internal combustion engine.

“Today we’re seeing significant commitments from manufacturers, investors, fleet operators, countries, cities, states and regions.

“The voices of the people in the streets at this COP are very clear – there is no more time for delay, or excuses to be made. We need to decarbonise our economies at pace and at scale. Those not at the table on Transport Day are on the wrong side of history.”

Vehicle leasing company Zenith joined the EV100 initiative in 2020, promising to switch its entire internal fleet to electric by 2025 – five years ahead of the 2date required by the EV100.

Commenting on the COP26 announcement, Tim Buchan, chief executive officer, Zenith, said: “The transition to net zero underpins everything we do at Zenith. We are working closely with customers and partners to accelerate change. The EV100 declaration at COP26 is a milestone for our industry and one that we are proud to be a part of.”

Zenith has already made significant progress on the road to net zero, with 42% of its own fleet now fully electric. The transition of customer fleets continues to accelerate, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounting for 17% of the car fleet.

Salary sacrifice leads the change, with 79% of current orders being for a BEV, while the customer LCV order book is now 37% BEV.

Alfonso Martinez, managing director of LeasePlan UK, said: “Back in 2017 when we became one of the founding members of the EV100 and committed to accelerating the worldwide switch to EV, everyone said we were being too idealistic.

At the time, we were just one of a few lonely voices telling everyone that the EVolution was just around the corner. But now, the excitement for EVs among businesses has reached fever pitch and there are very few people left to convince.

"Years of debate around range, cost and model availability have subsided. Passenger issues have been solved. Now, companies want to go electric; their regulators are pushing them, their investors are requesting it, and their customer are demanding it.

"Three years ago, one in 100 of our new orders were for an EV. Now it’s one in five. The whole mindset around EVs has changed. Our message to business leaders and fleet managers is simple: it’s possible, you just need to get started.”

Zero-emission HGVS from 2040

The UK Government has also announced it will phase out new, non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) weighing 26 tonnes and under by 2035, with all new HGVs sold in the UK to be zero emission by 2040. 

It had previously announced that it would end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We have reached a tipping point in the transition to clean road transport. It is inspiring to see governments and industry come together, to decarbonise road transport within a generation.”

New business commitments to electrify fleet vehicles by 2030 through Climate Group’s EV100 initiative have also been announced to coincide with COP26’s Transport Day.

EV100 has welcomed seven new members who committed to electrify their combined fleets of over 250,000 vehicles by 2030.

New joiners include UK-based companies M Group Services – the fifth largest fleet operator in the UK – and Kier, SK Networks from South Korea, Nichicon Corporation from Japan, and US-based Gilead Sciences Inc., Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and NRG Energy Inc. Gilead Sciences, Inc. is also joining RE100 by committing to 100% renewable electricity by 2025.

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