COP26: Tipping point reached on road to clean transport

Landmark progress on zero emission cars, vans and trucks will be announced during Transport Day today (10 November 2021) at the UN climate change conference COP26, supported by international governments, automotive manufacturers, businesses and investors.

The UK COP26 Presidency is set to announce a landmark road transport declaration with governments, automakers, investors and fleet owners and operators – calling for 100% of new car and van sales to be zero emission by 2035 in leading markets, and no later than 2040 globally.

Road transport accounts for over 17% of global carbon emissions so decarbonisation of the sector is critical for ensuring the world stays on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As of today, there is a critical mass of support driving the transition to zero emission vehicles, with markets representing 2 billion people, and automakers representing more than a quarter of car sales globally, committed to working towards 100% of all vehicle sales being zero emission by 2040 or earlier. 

Other announcements and commitments due today include:

  • UK COP Presidency declaration on zero emission cars and vans and new research from BNEF signals major progress made in the global market since the last COP – 27% of global auto market now covered by manufacturers’ commitments to end the sale of fossil fuel powered vehicles
  • Global agreement on zero emission trucks and buses also to be announced with support from countries including the UK, Chile, Austria, Turkey and New Zealand, and endorsement by subnational governments as well as major manufacturers and shippers including BYD, Scania and DHL
  • New business commitments to electrify over 250,000 fleet vehicles by 2030 secured by EV100 initiative.

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.”

Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Climate Champion, said: Our work with influential actors across the transport system through Race to Zero and RouteZero has shown that the transition to zero emission mobility and transport is inevitable, and through collaborative global action, accelerating. We have the technology to make clean road transport a reality and today it’s clear we have the willpower to do it in the next decade.”

Over 100 organisations from some of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, national governments, cities, states, regions, business fleet owners and operators and investors are set to show the way towards 100% zero emission cars and van sales by 2035 in leading markets, and no later than 2040 globally. Signatories will be featured on a dedicated website (, which will go live today at 09:00 GMT.

The declaration will be launched by the UK Government later this morning as part of a Transport Day event: Accelerating the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition: A One Way Street.

Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport, UK, 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.”

A global agreement on zero emission trucks and buses, led by the government of the Netherlands and CALSTART, will also launch today, with more than a dozen countries including Chile, Turkey, Austria, New Zealand and the UK signing on. Signatories will work towards achieving 100% new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales being zero emission by 2040, with an interim target of 30% by 2030. 

The agreement has also received widespread support from industry, shippers and subnational governments, including Scania, BYD, DHL, Heineken and Quebec.    

Steven van Weyenberg, Minister for the Environment of the Netherlands, said: “For too long our medium-and heavy-duty vehicles were too difficult to decarbonise. But technology is improving fast and costs are reducing quickly. So now is the time to speed up. Not just for the climate. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. This cuts both ways: investments now will lead to more green jobs in the coming years. I call on other countries to join our effort as soon as possible.” 

Dr. Cristiano Façanha, CALSTART’s Global Director, said: “For the first time we have a unified target, supported by leading governments and industry, for when new trucks and buses should fully transition to zero-emission technologies. Globally, freight trucks and buses represent about 4% of the on-road fleet globally but are responsible for 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, and over 70% of nitrogen oxide emissions that contribute to local air pollution. This makes trucks and buses a very effective target for fast decarbonisation.”

New business commitments to electrify fleet vehicles by 2030 through Climate Group’s EV100 initiative have been announced by South Korea’s largest fleet, SK Networks (parent company of SK Rent-a-Car), UK-based companies M Group Services (the fifth largest fleet operator in the UK) and Kier, Nichicon Corporation from Japan, and US-based businesses Gilead Sciences Inc., Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and NRG Energy Inc.

Image: Shutterstock

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