The Transport Decarbonisation Alliance at COP27

Call to Action on Active Mobility and Deep Dive on Clean Trucks

Last month at COP 27 in Egypt, CLEE partnered with the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance (TDA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as chair of TDA, to convene experts to discuss some of the major next steps in clean transportation. While avoiding the worst of climate change requires a rapid increase in the pace of decarbonization across the transport sector, the TDA spotlighted two important areas: a call to action on active mobility and a deep dive into accelerating deployment of clean trucks. 

The TDA put out a Call to Action to support Active Mobility Capacity Building invest $100 million in the training of 10,000 active mobility professionals, marking the first time that active mobility featured prominently at a climate change summit. Improving conditions for walking and cycling can generate improvements in public health, road safety, and emission reductions – all while making cities more liveable. All these benefits of walking and cycling can be low-hanging fruit for local jurisdictions, but are too often overlooked and underfunded. And while it’s not unusual for cities to struggle with identifying funding for active mobility initiatives, even when they are ready to make the investments their success can be constrained by a lack of technical expertise to properly plan, design, build, maintain, operate and promote sustainable urban mobility systems. Training 10,000 mobility professionals in the next ten years will build a local knowledge base and create a pipeline of projects to ensure sustained, high quality investment in active mobility at a global scale. To learn more watch the event “Shifting Gear: Accelerating Active Mobility for Future Generations”

Later in the COP, the TDA, CLEE, and CARB hosted a series of sessions bringing representatives from companies, countries, cities, and regions together to discuss challenges and opportunities around decarbonizing freight and the deployment of charging infrastructure for clean trucks (learn more and watch the discussions here). These events highlighted clean trucks as a growing priority for a few reasons:

Trucks have a disproportionate impact on public health and carbon emissions.

  • Indeed, in the US, trucks make up only 5% of vehicles on the road but account for more than 25% of overall transportation emissions. An Environmental Defense Fund analysis found that ensuring 100% of new truck, bus, and van sales in the US are zero emission by 2040 would lead to $485 billion in health and environmental benefits and prevent as many as 57,000 premature deaths by 2050. Notably, low income and communities of color often bear the brunt of the health and emissions impacts from trucks, making clean trucking a climate justice priority.

Current zero emission truck uptake is slow and it needs to scale up rapidly.

  • Some 95% of global 2021 EV sales were light duty passenger vehicles, while only 5% were trucks. Yet, while sales have been increasing, they make up only a small fraction of overall vehicles on the road today. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, the best chance of keeping warming below 2 °C would require most developed countries to transition at least 90% of their new car, van, and bus sales and three-quarters of truck sales to zero emissions by 2035, and partner with emerging markets and developing economies to transition at least 90% of global car, van, bus, and truck sales to zero emission by 2040. 

The clean truck technologies and business case are ready.

  • Many clean trucks already offer fuel and maintenance cost savings over the life of the vehicles, and most studies show that the total cost of ownership for nearly all zero emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be lower than those of internal combustion engine trucks by 2025 or 2030 at the latest. While more zero emission truck models and better range are still needed, a large number of outstanding truck orders indicates that demand exceeds current production.

Participants noted that key supportive policies can accelerate investment in clean trucks. Jurisdictions can send market signals by setting ambitious deployment targets for trucks and charging. Regulations can help create market certainty, for example, CARB’s Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets rules set annually increasing targets for manufacturers to sell and fleets to purchase zero emission trucks. Incentives and de-risking initiatives can help attract private investment. National and regional governments and NGOs can help traditionally siloed stakeholders coordinate across public, private, energy, and transportation sectors.

The sessions also highlighted that differing approaches based on readiness will pave the collective path for transforming the sector. For example, light duty EVs are a good “gateway” to heavy-duty electrification: if jurisdictions already have robust charging networks for cars, they’re often better positioned for the infrastructure needed for trucks. Similarly, by leading on trucks, jurisdictions like the EU, China and US can help bring down the costs and demonstrate success for the rest of the world. Governments (and the private sector) should take whatever steps they can to encourage investment in zero emission vehicles and move the market forward. (Take a look at CLEE’s Case Study brief, Deploying Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Innovations to Accelerate Transport Decarbonisation, for some examples of varying approaches from jurisdictions at different stages of cleaning up transportation.) 

All approaches and all hands on deck will be needed to decarbonize transportation at the pace and scale required by climate science. As a global network of companies, countries, cities, and regions, the TDA can connect experts, identify challenges, and spotlight solutions through initiatives like these COP 27 discussions. Both active mobility and clean trucks as an emerging priority will require significant investment and coordination in the next two decades, and TDA members are already leading the way. 

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