November 10 was Transport Day at COP26 in Scotland, and parts of the automotive industry had pledged to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035 in leading markets and by 2040 across the globe.
The new targets aim to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles in a bid to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
A key issue is the difference between developed and developing economies. Developing governments called on developed countries to strengthen the collaboration and international support offer to facilitate a global, equitable and just transition.
The deal was also signed by local and regional authorities and automotive companies and investors. Measures to be taken include making all municipal car and van fleets zero emissions by 2035, while private business fleet owners committed to a target date of 2030 for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).
Investors also committed to enabling 100% zero-emission car and van sales by 2035.
The agreement also calls for zero-emission vehicles the new normal by making them accessible, affordable and sustainable in all regions by 2030.
How this will be done requires a wholesale restructuring of the global automotive sector.
The agreements called for sector players to work together to overcome strategic, political and technical barriers, accelerate the production of zero-emission vehicles and increase economies of scale, to make the transition faster, lower-cost and easier for everyone.
The agreement was signed by some major governments, such as the UK, India, Mexico, bur crucially not the US, Germany, Japan, Russia or China.
This will substantially weaken the deal and inhibit its ability to achieve major CO2 emission reductions.
Indeed, the transport sector, especially heavy goods vehicles, will be particularly difficult to decarbonise.
The EU's Fit for 55 package, published in July 2021, aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the EU by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. However, the package projects just a 4% emissions reduction for HGVs between 2019-30.
On the other hand, a number of US cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City and San Francisco did sign up.
Volvo, Mercedes, Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors and Ford all signed, but not Volkswagen, Honda or Toyota.
On the same day, the World Bank launched a trust fund that will mobilise $200mn over the next 10 years to decarbonise road transport in emerging markets and developing economies.
Meanwhile, the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council (ZEVTC), co-chaired by the US and UK, set out a plan to hasten the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
The UK also pledged to shift to clean trucks by committing to end the sale of most new diesel trucks between 2035 and 2040.
Greenpeace was highly critical of the deal, not least because of the lack of support from major government and automotive manufacturers.
“Transport is one of the biggest causes of global fossil fuel emissions. To keep the goal of 1.5 alive, the final text agreed at Glasgow must commit to phasing out new oil, but we won’t get there if our economies stay stuck in the past, reliant on pumping cars and trucks full of fossil fuels.
“What’s gravely concerning today is that major economies like the US, Germany, China, Japan and manufacturers like VW, Toyota and Hyundai could not even bring themselves to sign a declaration on electric vehicles that promises less than what’s actually required to maintain climate security,” said Martin Kaiser, executive director of Greenpeace Germany.
Meanwhile, 19 governments have also stated their intention to support the establishment of green shipping corridors – zero-emission shipping routes between two ports.
This will involve deploying zero-emission vessel technologies and putting alternative fuel and charging infrastructure in place in ports to allow for zero-emission shipping on key routes across the globe.