FIA Foundation driving agenda at COP23

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Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation Deputy Director and Director of Research and Environment speaking at COP23.
Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation Deputy Director and Director of Research and Environment speaking at COP23.
The ‘Talanoa space’ at COP23, where participants were encouraged to meet and collaborate.
The ‘Talanoa space’ at COP23, where participants were encouraged to meet and collaborate.
Sheila Watson highlighted that with existing technologies, it is possible to double the average efficiency of new vehicles by 2030. The FIA Foundation is contributing to these solutions through the TRUE and Global Fuel Economy initiatives and working to accelerate change.

At the 23rd Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP23), FIA Foundation participation continued to drive important conversations forward; on air quality; on vehicle emissions; on the safety and security of women in sustainable mobility; and on vehicle efficiency – all areas where we need urgent progress to limit global warming as outlined in the Paris Agreement of COP21. 

Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation Deputy Director and Director of Research and Environment was heavily involved in the ‘Action Agenda’ discussions across all these issues, presenting new data from the pioneering TRUE initiative, announcing ambitious new GFEI targets on HDV efficiency, showing real delivery on the GFEI’s COP21 commitments, and putting women on the agenda at the Sustainable Mobility for All forum.

The Fijian hosts of COP23 used the Pacific concept of ‘Talanoa’ as the theme for the discussions in Bonn. This concept, which promotes storytelling and the sharing of mutually beneficial ideas, as a means of cooperation, mirrors the Foundation’s approach its work; collaboration, knowledge sharing and convening expert partners to catalyse meaningful change.

The TRUE initiative, a partnership including ICCT, C40 Cities and Transport and Environment, is a perfect example of this approach, where the initiative aims to provide transparency on real world vehicle emissions data, which is vital for effective policy making. At an ITF/ITDP official side event, Sheila Watson shared an update on the TRUE initiative, and how the roadside testing of emissions in London will empower policy-makers and consumers to make cleaner choices.

COP23 also featured two important updates for the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI). Heavy Duty Vehicles are set to overtake passenger cars in terms of fuel consumption, and possibly as soon as within the next decade. The GFEI announced its #35by35 efficiency target for HDVs – a 35% average improvement in new HEVs by 2035 - which if met could prevent a staggering 1 to 2 billion tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year by that date.

Speaking at the Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) panel discussion on freight and logistics during the COP23 Transport discussions, Sheila Watson said “The HDV fleet is growing at pace to become the biggest user of fuels. Improved fuel efficiency is essential to address and avoid the climate impact of that growth. Where better to launch our initiative to support improved HDV fuel efficiency than here at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn.”

To mark this announcement, GFEI has published a summary setting out future work in this area. SheIla was joined on the panel by Andrea Dorothea of freight logistics company DB Schenker who said on the freight issue, “Discourage the cheap, discourage the dirty, drive them out of the market.” Sophie Punte of Global Green Freight Action Plan added, “transparency is key, those who are generating carbon emissions must be honest about it.”

During the Transport thematic day, Sheila Watson presented the COP23 GFEI update on ‘100 for 50by50’, which aims to increase the number of countries that GFEI supports to implement fuel economy policies to 100, in order to halve average fuel consumption of new vehicles by 2030. The update shows that GFEI has tripled its country engagement to 70 countries since then, supporting fuel efficiency work, and plans to expand this further.

The SLOCAT Transport Talk Show panel on E-Mobility and Innovations in Transport featured an expert all-female panel who agreed that with easy solutions in the transport sector, significant progress can be made quickly. Asked what significant change she would implement right now, Sheila Watson highlighted that with existing technologies, it is possible to double the average efficiency of new vehicles by 2030. The FIA Foundation is contributing to these solutions through the TRUE and Global Fuel Economy initiatives and working to accelerate change.

The Sustainable Mobility For All (SUM4ALL) work stream will continue to explore the role of gender in sustainable mobility thanks to FIA Foundation leading a debate on the issue at the SUM4ALL Consortium meeting at COP23. 'Transforming transportation to reflect the needs of women might be the truly transformational change which we seek’ said Sheila Watson whilst sharing FIA Foundation’s ‘Safe & Sound’ and ‘She Moves Safe’ work at the meeting.