Why the COP25 matters to you
Over the last few weeks, you have probably heard about world leaders heading from Chile to Madrid to gather at the COP25. But what is the COP25? And why does it matter to you as a fleet manager or as someone involved-one in the mobility sector?
COP25 is the world’s biggest and most important climate conference, where the future of the environment, and all greenhouse gas emitting sectors will be discussed, with transport and mobility among the most important ones.
As the name suggest the COP25 is the 25th gathering of the Conference of the Parties, which is the international climate change framework created by the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Conference. Every year the world’s leaders gather to discuss climate change, both its evolution and ways to mitigate and adapt. In 2016 the COP members ratified the Paris Agreement. Since then, 187 parties signed up and sent in an NDC (nationally determined contribution) in which each country declares how it will curb its own greenhouse gas (equivalent) emissions.
Window of opportunity
Last year, the parties agreed to create a kind of rulebook through which the Paris Agreement could come into effect. This year the COP aimed to lay the groundwork for 2020, when all parties have to send in their improved NDCs. If we continue a business as usual scenario (so with the current policies in place), we will reach the critical tipping point of 1.5 degrees warming already by 2034 according to the Climate Action Tracker. So the window of opportunity to act upon climate change is closing rapidly.
Opportunities for transport
As a result, the following measures were already announced during the COP25 and we can expect more to come during 2020.
- The European Green Deal. During the COP25 the European Commission announced the European Green Deal. This is a roadmap towards a carbon neutral Europe by 2050. For the transport sector this includes an increase of EV charging points and of EVs on the road, and tougher emission targets.
- The Global E-Mobility Programme. To increase the uptake of EV sales, The Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched the Global E-Mobility Programme. The programme will help governments of 17 countries to speed up the EV transition. The GEF has freed up an initial $33 million and aims to leverage $400 million and more in co-financing with the European Commission and the Asian Development Bank, among others. Among the first participants of the Programme are Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Burundi, Chile, Costa Rica, India, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Madagascar, Maldives, Peru, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Saint Lucia, Togo, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
- Upscaled ambitions. Since the COP25 asked its parties to increase their ambition, various parties pledged to strengthen their NDCs by 2020. Since 80% of the NDCs include transport as a mitigation sector, and more than 60% include specific transport-related measures, these tougher NDCs are high likely to result in tougher emission and other transport related targets as well. To be expected before the COP26 at the end of 2020.
- Carbon neutral by 2050. In addition to upscaled NDCs, various parties pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. This will impact the transport sector since globally transport related emissions account for about one fifth of all emissions. Similarly to the NDCs, these pledges are very likely to result in tougher emission targets for the transportation sector.
- Transport Day. The COP25 also hosted a dedicated Transport Day during which members of the transport and mobility sector gathered and discussed what is needed and possible to bring the transport sector in line with the upcoming improved NDCs. Results are to be expected throughout 2020, when parties will send in their improved NDCs.
- The Getting to Zero Coalition. Interestingly, BMW is the first car manufacturer to join the Getting to Zero Coalition, targeting to use zero-emission cargo vessels from 2030 in their international network for both manufacturing as distribution of vehicles.
How to cope with transport-related emissions?
Various answers have been proposed to mitigate transport-related emissions before and during the COP25. Yet, it will depend on the countries NDCs which strategies will be chosen and how they will be implemented and measured. Yet, here are some of the key factors in a nutshell:
- Public transport should be the backbone of a sustainable mobility plan globally. This includes rail.
- Electric vehicles could do more than driving. Since vehicle-to-grid technology could be the missing link between a clean energy transition and a clean transportation transition.
- Electric vehicles should increase both in vehicles and in charging points.
- EVs won’t be the only cars. Alternative fuels, including biofuels, synthetic fuels and hydrogen could be part of the solution.
- When driving out, vehicles should be shared rather than used for one person solely. Carsharing has the potential to reduce car-related CO2 emissions by one third.
- Shared and electric vehicle technology should be combined: the largest CO2 reductions in the transport sector are expected to come from shared EVs.
- Fewer cars means less parking in public areas, that can be converted for more sustainable means of transport, such as walking and cycling.
- Walking and cycling must be promoted.
- Addressing fossil fuel subsidisation and implementing carbon prices or targeted subsidies for more sustainable options to create fair competition for the eco-friendlier transportation modes.
COP25 should be the last call for increasing ambitions, which will be presented at the COP26 at the end of 2020. During 2020 we can expect all parties to send in enhanced NDCs, in which transport-related emission reduction targets are highly likely to be included as well as measures to motivate more sustainable transport modes from hydrogen and EVs to cycling and walking.