FIA Foundation at COP26 advocates for zero carbon pathways

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Launch of the GFEI ZERO Pathway report.
Launch of the GFEI ZERO Pathway report.
Deputy Director Sheila Watson leads the UNFCC ‘Just Transition Panel’.
Deputy Director Sheila Watson leads the UNFCC ‘Just Transition Panel’.
Executive Director Saul Billingsley present the Streets for Life message to the Namibian Environment Minister, the Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, and the youth members of the Namibina COP26 delegation.
Executive Director Saul Billingsley present the Streets for Life message to the Namibian Environment Minister, the Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, and the youth members of the Namibina COP26 delegation.
Trudy Harrison MP speaking at the Cities 4 Children event.
Trudy Harrison MP speaking at the Cities 4 Children event.

The FIA Foundation has been at the heart of many discussions and debates at COP26 in Glasgow raising the importance of the changes needed in the road transport sector as it rises in prominence on the global climate action agenda.

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) launched the new report ‘Securing global fleet transformation: GFEI's ZERO Pathway’, which sets out why a radical global policy shift towards far greater support for fleet electrification and fuel efficiency improvement across all markets is essential if the global targets for zero emission transport by 2050 are to be met. The report was launched at the joint GFEI and International Transport Forum event ‘Driving Implementation Actions and Turning Targets into a Transformation’ which also heard from the Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, as well, as well as GFEI Partner representatives including FIA Foundation Deputy Director Sheila Watson, Head of the UN Environment Programme’s Mobility Department, Rob de Jong, and Lewis M. Fulton Director of the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways programme at the Institute of Transportation at UC Davis.

The GFEI Working Paper 'Vehicle fuel economy in major markets 2005-2019' also had a virtual launch during the first week of COP26. The paper shows that average annual light duty vehicle fuel consumption fell by just 0.9% between 2017 and 2019 - far less than the 1.8% annual average reduction between 2010 and 2015. These stalling vehicle improvements are also far below the levels of progress needed to meet the Paris emission targets. Increasing vehicle weight and power were a major impediment to further improvement - SUVs made up 44% of all light duty sales in 2019, which has eroded up to 40% of improvements in fuel economy. A core finding of the report is the significance of the right policy in securing improvements.

Sheila Watson, Deputy Director of the FIA Foundation, said “The full decarbonisation of the global vehicle fleet is essential to have any hope of limiting the climate crisis, and it is absolutely right that it has been front and centre of the discussions at this COP26, including having its own day for debate as a policy priority. This is a global challenge, and we will only succeed if every country has the right policy framework, tools and support, as the new GFEI ZERO Pathway highlights. The transformative change we need to see has to be equitable and inclusive or else it will not succeed."

The Global Alliance Cities 4 Children coalition – a partnership of 20 organizations, including the FIA Foundation - working together to ensure that the voices of children and youth are heard in urban policy hosted its first public event. The event welcomed a global panel of speakers including Elizabeth Wathuti, environmentalist, climate activist, and Founder of Green Generation Initiative and Global South Youth Co-Chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council; Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, UK Department for Transport; Zoleka Mandela Global Ambassador of the Child Health Initiative; and FIA Foundation Executive Director, Saul Billingsley delivering the closing remarks.

The FIA Foundation was also represented at a wide range of events examining many of the factors which impact transport and the decarbonisation agenda. Deputy Director Sheila Watson spoke at the prestigious UNCFCC Transport Event ‘Just Transition’ panel discussing equity in transport, the International Transport Forum event ‘The role of gender equality in decarbonising transport’, and the ITDP’s Cycling Cities event discussing safety and youth inclusion for a decarbonised future.

“While the prominence of the transport sector in this year’s COP is a welcome development, the FIA Foundation’s activity over the past two weeks has highlighted how much further the transport agenda must be developed if we are to ensure equitable, safe and sustainable transport changes that will deliver meaningful action on the climate crisis,” said Executive Director Saul Billingsley. “In particular the climate benefits of investment in walking and cycling are still under-emphasised and must be given more prominence as part of a radical re-thinking of how we use our urban space.”