How COP28 aims to change driving to drive change

The landmark COP28 event in Dubai aims to kick-start a new era of sustainability.  It needs to, if the world has any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels.  This target, enshrined in the Paris Agreement signed at COP15 in 2015, is, however, drastically off-course. The most likely outcome is a 2.4C to 2.7C increase by the end of this century.  The world needs to cut emissions by 42% by 2030 to hit the 1.5C threshold.

Decarbonising transport and personal mobility is totally crucial; private cars and vans alone were responsible for more than 25% of global oil use and around 10% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency.

Within this context, the future of transport is taking centre stage at the conference with 6 December designated as Transport Day. Policy-makers, NGOs and government leaders will come together throughout that day to debate the issues and aim to agree paths to reduce emissions from all forms of transportation.  

While overall climate progress has been woefully insufficient, electric vehicles represent a great success.

According to the recent State of Climate Action report by the World Resources Institute, the rate of adoption of EVs is the only one of 42 indicators of climate progress that is shining green. All the others are failing to meet the progress required by 2030. The report states: “Over the past five years, the share of electric vehicles in passenger car sales has grown exponentially at an average annual rate of 65% — up from 1.6% of sales in 2018 to 10% of sales in 2022. For the first time in this report series, such progress puts this indicator on track for 2030.”

But there’s no room for complacency over EVs either.  Another piece of research by consultants Wood Mackenzie, has pointed out that the number of electric vehicles will have to rise from 43 million today to well over a billion as part of the energy transition required to hit the Paris targets. They estimate the cost of this overall transition will be US$2.7 trillion a year.  This is why finance is also such a key part of the COP28 agenda!

Speaking at the Global Dialogue event in Abu Dhabi in October, COP28 Chief Executive Officer Adnan Z Amin, said: “A sustainable transport sector is central to our shared success in keeping 1.5C within reach. Transport would need an accelerated electrification and associated deployment of charging infrastructure in the coming decades. By 2050 electric vehicles would have to account for 80 percent of all road transport activity.”

The COP28 President welcomes climate decision makers, ministers, international financial institutions and adaptation and finance champions in Abu Dhabi for the 3rd Climate & Development Ministerial at the Pre-COP event.

The transition to EVs therefore needs the right policies and frameworks. That’s the role of the delegates in the Blue Zone at COP28. This is the area of the event that will host the formal negotiations by accredited party and observer delegates, including heads of state and governments, across the two weeks of the conference.

But ultimately, the move to EVs is about encouraging drivers to make the switch.  Sustainable transport around the COP28 events has been a priority for the organizers and EVs will play a prominent role, as part of delivering a carbon neutral event.

Organizers say that more than 10,000 hybrid taxis (available through the Hala app) and 1,000 electric luxury vehicles will be available to visitors and delegates. In addition sixty-seven biofuel-powered buses, supported by 10 electric buses, will serve four stops within Expo City Dubai, as part of a comprehensive plan by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to help delegations and visitors easily reach the venue.

One of the buses that will transport COP28 visitors.

Within the overall fleet, Al-Futtaim Group, COP28’s Strategic E-Mobility Partner, is providing 360 electrified vehicles ranging from passenger cars and SUVs to buses, for use by the 70,000 delegates. Furthermore, they are setting up Charge2Moov electric vehicle charging stations directly at the event venue. This is the first outing for Al-Futtaim’s strategic partnership with the RTA to support mega-events in the UAE. They are also running a full schedule of events in the COP28 Green Zone and elsewhere in Dubai.

BMW has also been named as VIP E-Mobility Provider and will deploy some electric and hydrogen powered cars for the exclusive use of VIP guests and officials.

So it will be hard to miss the electric vehicles driving around the roads. But there are also great opportunities for UAE residents and visitors to learn more about EVs, the technology behind them and the car options available to them.

For example, Al-Futtaim is running a series of events at the DFC Mall, introducing electric cars from manufacturers including BYD, Polestar and Volvo and the latest hybrid models from Toyota, Lexus and Honda. The company is also hosting a large stand in the Green Zone at COP28 (available to all visitors), where it will stage talks with EV pioneers including the heads of sustainability of Polestar and Volvo on 3 and 5 Dec respectively. There will be other presentations and panel discussions most days throughout the event, as well as showcasing some of the latest EVs.

Al-Futtaim’s BLUE Rewards app will be hosting a page where visitors of the Al-Futtaim stand can submit their personal pledges. For every pledge made, the company will plant a tree.

We must all hope that the Blue Zone delegates can agree on – and stick to – measures to limit global warming, including sustainable transport and mobility policies.  The COP28 event itself is, however, poised to act as a showcase of an exciting electric transport future.

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29 Nov, 2023