'Gravely concerning': Fears over COP26 electric car deal – ‘we need to cut off dependency’

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An agreement was reached at COP26 to transition to 100 percent zero-emission sales of new cars and vans by 2040 globally and 2035 in “leading markets”. The UK Government already set out their goals in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which pledged to end the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Sales of new hybrid vehicles will also be phased out after 2035, with sales of new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) being banned from 2040.

In addition to the ZEV car agreement, 15 countries also agreed to a separate pledge to work toward 100 percent zero-emission sales of new trucks and buses by 2040.

Despite the positive move, the BMW Group, Renault Group, Hyundai Motor Group and Stellantis all declined to sign the electric car agreement.

Major automotive nations like the USA, China, Germany, South Korea and Japan also failed to sign the agreement.

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Some industry experts have predicted that automotive companies didn’t sign the agreement because the key countries also did not sign up.

The declaration stated: “We will support efforts to achieve the road transport breakthrough announced by world leaders, which aims to make zero emission vehicles the new normal by making them accessible, affordable and sustainable in all regions by 2030.

“We recognise that alongside the shift to zero emission vehicles, a sustainable future for road transport will require wider system transformation, including support for active travel, public and shared transport, as well as addressing the full value chain impacts from vehicle production, use and disposal.”

Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, saw the announcement as a positive move for the UK.

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She said: “It’s great to see the UK doubling down on the transition to clean vehicles at COP26. 

“After committing to phasing out of petrol and diesel cars and vans, today’s announcement to ban new polluting trucks by 2040 is an important step towards cutting carbon from the highest emitting sector and cleaning up our air. 

 “Leadership on clean vehicles will also be good for business and jobs, as countries and manufacturers that position themselves at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution are best placed to capture this growing global market. 

“The UK Government should now fast track implementation of an ambitious zero emission vehicle mandate – expanding this to trucks as well – to unleash a wave of investments in the industries and jobs of the future.”

Despite the optimism of making a push for electric vehicles in the UK, not everyone is happy with the lack of international solidarity.

Martin Kaiser, Executive Director of Greenpeace Germany said: “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.

“To stop new fossil fuels, we need to cut off our dependency. That means moving on from combustion engines towards electric vehicles and creating clean public transport networks without delay.”

Other aims of Transport Day at COP26 was for fleet-owning businesses to commit to achieving a fully zero emission fleet by 2030 or earlier.

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