RouteZero: Climate Group launches new initiative to decarbonise road transport

International non-profit the Climate Group had partnered with the UN High-Level Climate Champions to launch a new initiative aimed at getting businesses, cities and regions to completely decarbonise all forms of road transport.

RouteZero will support the UK’s efforts to mobilise climate action in the build-up to COP26 The RouteZero platform acts as a global call for ambitious commitments to deliver zero-emission vehicle adoption. It encourages businesses, cities, states, regions and investors to enable the shift towards emissions-free road transport.

Road transport is the fastest-growing contributor to global emissions, accountable for 24% of energy-related carbon emissions. Currently, more than two billion road vehicles have internal combustion engines and those vehicles are a big contributor to air pollution. As such, RouteZero covers all road vehicles, including cars, buses, vans, medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks, as well as two and three-wheelers.

The initiative will aim to spur new commitments from automakers, city planners, businesses and individuals, who can then work collaboratively to design products and systems that enable zero-emissions transport. COP26 President Designate, Alok Sharma, said: “We will not win the Race to Zero if we do not accelerate the shift to clean road transport. RouteZero will showcase the highest levels of ambition to drive momentum on the road to COP26, bringing together commitments and evidence of action to send a clear message that zero-emission vehicles are the future.”

RouteZero will support the UK’s efforts to mobilise climate action in the build-up to COP26 and was designed in response to the UN Race to Zero Breakthroughs. The Race to Zero Breakthroughs were published in a special paper by the UN High-Level Climate Champions, COP26 President Alok Sharma, COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, and the UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda. It will build on the Race to Zero campaign that was launched in June 2020. The Breakthroughs outline how 20 sectors that make up the global economy, including finance, water, aviation and clean energy, can act on near-term tipping points to move towards net-zero emissions.

The paper articulates “what key actors must do, and by when, to deliver the systems change we need to achieve a resilient, zero-carbon world”. Specifically, the initiative is aiming to get “actors” that account for 20% of each sector to commit to a series of major breakthroughs, such as setting net-zero targets, ensuring the majority of sector energy use comes from renewables and creating capacity for certain green technologies such as hydrogen and zero-carbon facilities. RouteZero will support the “breakthrough” goal of reaching 100% zero-emission transport for new vehicle sales in leading markets by 2030 for buses, 2035 for cars and vans and 2040 for heavy goods vehicles.

The initiative builds on the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, which aims is to help make zero-emission transport “the new normal” by 2030 and most businesses commit to delivering fully electric fleets. Big-name supporters include Unilever, Sky, Coca-Cola European Partners, BT and Ikea. Businesses involved with the EV100 initiative have collectively rolled out more than 169,000 electric vehicles (EVs), with 89,000 having been rolled out in 2020 alone.

The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson said: “The transition to zero-emission vehicles is well underway – there are now over 100 global businesses part of EV100, committing to switch over 5 million vehicles to electric by the end of the decade. “But this is a pivotal year for climate action and pockets of leadership are not enough. We need to use COP26 as a moment to bring everyone together to rapidly accelerate action and deliver a real breakthrough in clean road transport.”

Matt Mace