The Global Fuel Economy Initiative is heavily engaged in shaping a series of global processes on energy efficiency and fuel economy. It is a major part of the UN’s focus on sustainable energy and contributes to the UN agenda of doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency through to 2030.

2015: A crucial year for fuel economy

It has taken GFEI just 5 years to become the global lead campaign on fuel economy in vehicles. 2015 is a crucial year as we seek to ensure fuel economy is reflected in long-term global agreements on Climate Change in Paris in December and the Sustainble Development Goals, which are due to be agreed in September in New York. GFEI has been working hard to ensure that the importance of fuel economy is recognized.

GFEI is an Accelerator within the UN's Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) programme, and as such is a key element in the UNFCCC/COP21 climate action process. GFEI will work towards developing a publishable goal on country engagement in fuel economy work for announcement at COP21 in Paris in December 2015.

The UN's Post-2015 process continues in 2015 towards the adoption of a series of SDGs. Draft goals exist, and fuel economy is currently encompassed within Goal 7 on energy efficiency. The target of our work this year, will not only be to maximise the likelihood that this goal remains as an SDG, but also to ensure that the means of implementation and measurement of this goal include the GFEI's data and expertise.

In addition, in November 2014, world leaders at the 2014 G20 Summit agreed an Action Plan for on Energy Efficiency, highlighted vehicle fuel efficiency as a key priority. The G20’s work stream will focus on heavy goods vehicles in 2015, with the work being coordinated by the US Government, and GFEI providing expert input. The GFEI is now an implementing partner in developing further engagement on this issue amongst G20 countries ahead of the Turkey Summit in November 2015, where it is hoped that more countries will join GFEI's work.


GFEI is a key part of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), as a ‘High Impact Opportunity’, and is its leading initiative on fuel economy.

As such GFEI has played a major role in the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform which was established to help drive action and commitments by leaders at national and sectorial level. GFEI commitments on fuel economy by governments and sectors will help move the agenda forward on energy efficiency. GFEI’s work in developing toolkits, policy options, data and technical capacity are critical in this respect.

GFEI was presented at a high level session at the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum in June 2014, the GFEI was highlighted as one means by which society might reconcile the need for greater mobility with the potential downsides in terms of fuel waste, energy security, climate change, congestion and air quality, which that presents. The annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum brought together high-level participants from governments, international organisations, civil society and NGOs in support of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative on Sustainable Energy for All. Alongside the UN Secretary General, other high level speakers at the Forum included: Kandeh Yumkella, UN Special Representative, Sustainable Energy for All, Rajendra Pachauri Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Helen Clark UN Development Programme Administrator, Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility and Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development.

Sheila Watson, Director of Environment and Research, FIA Foundation, speaking at the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum

UN Climate Summit

Abu Dhabi Ascent - May 2014

As part of preparations for the UN’s Climate Summit, the GFEI briefed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on vehicle fuel economy in a bilateral meeting on 5 May 2014, during his Abu Dhabi Ascent meeting. The GFEI - represented by Sheila Watson - was one of a group of key stakeholders consulted by the UN Secretary General on global efforts to address climate change. GFEI was also presented in the main meeting alongside other key participants who included UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner, Kandeh Yumkella Chairman of UN Energy, and environment advocate and philanthropist Al Gore.

In both the UN’s Climate Summit agenda and its ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative there is strong recognition of the need for a transformation in how the world uses energy. With rapid development across many world regions, and particularly with the forecast dramatic increase in motorisation, a new approach to energy use in vehicles will become ever more critical, and a target to double energy efficiency worldwide, will be absolutely vital.

GFEI Executive Secretary met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at Abu Dhabi Ascent meeting

GFEI Accelerator Symposium - Paris - September 2014

In early September 2014, the GFEI Global Fuel Economy Initiative convened an ‘Accelerator Symposium’ to build momentum on fuel economy ahead of the September 2014 UN Climate Summit. The Symposium hosted by the French Government at the Ministry of Ecology Sustainable Development and Energy on 5th September, provided a forum for countries, experts, NGOs and the private sector to advance the agenda on fuel economy globally and prepare for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit. Government representatives from a wide range of countries working on fuel economy policies participated in the Symposium. Countries presenting at the Symposium included China, Georgia Kenya and Mauritius. There were more than 70 delegates attending the symposium from around the world with countries represented including Chile, Costa Rica, Hungary, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Peru, Sri Lanka, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the UAE, Uganda and Vietnam. Organisations included Transport & Environment, the FIA, ExxonMobil, Michelin, Renault, CEDARE, the OECD and the World Bank.

Ligia Noronha, Director, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, UNEP

UN Climate Summit - NYC - September 2014

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative joined over 120 heads of state, business leaders and civil society representatives at the United Nations Climate Summit on 23 September to make its contribution to the range of commitments aimed at reducing emissions, enhancing resistance to climate change and mobilising resources for environmental action. The GFEI was highlighted as an ‘Action Announcement’ on sustainable energy in a key session held in the UN General Assembly.

World leaders and a range of high profile speakers including US President Barack Obama, former US Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasised that current patterns of consumption of resources including fossil fuels are unsustainable.

The GFEI will take commitments on fuel economy onwards from the Climate Summit and through to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings in Peru at the end of 2014 and France in 2015. The GFEI was also contributed to a group of transport commitments announced at the Summit by the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCAT). This included a commitments on urban electric mobility led by UN Habitat, commitment on urban electric mobility led by UN Habitat, a commitment on public transport and on railways.

Post 2015 framework of SDGs

It is a priority for GFEI to ensure that fuel economy is an integral and important part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework. The GFEI is hosted a meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York in November 2013, with SE4ALL and others to press the case for a sustainable energy SDG, with GFEI as a key implementing partner.

The momentum towards including transport efficiency as a target - in line with the GFEI's objectives - has grown, and the latest version of the SDG targets has a goal on energy efficiency (number 7), with a target to double the annual rate of improvement of energy efficiency in transport and other sectors.

GFEI was presented at Transport Day 2013, during the 19th UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw in December 2013. Earlier this year the GFEI was presented at the UN's World Environment Day session in NYC focussed on Small Island Developing States which are particularly vulnerable to climate change-induced sea-level rises estimated to be up to four times the global average; with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability.

GFEI will dedicate considerable efforts and resources to maintaining the momentum around the retention of this target within the SDGs, in coming months and years

Sheila Watson makes a submission to the UN hearing on behalf of GFEI

The G20

The G20 has energy efficiency as one of it's key priorities this year, and GFEI has been working hard to ensure that it is fully reflected in the proceedings and outcomes of its Brisbane meeting in November 2014. Two influential reports by the Stanley Foundation, and by Climate Advisers and the Centre for American Progress, which were supported by FIA Foundation, have called upon the G20 and the US Government respectively to lead a global effort to promote fuel efficiency, as a practical way to address climate issues.

The next few months will present several opportunities for this work to be promoted further. Meetings of the Africa Sustainable Transport Forum in Kenya in October; BAQ in Sri Lanka, Challenge Bibendum in China in November; and Transport Day at the COP 20 in Peru in December, will be valuable opportunities to continue to build momentum around the issue and in these 3 key processes.