Blog20th December 2023

COP28 Points the Way to Cleaner Mobility

By Richard Earl

We’ve come to look upon COP summits as pivotal moments in addressing climate change and this year’s summit has been noted as the most progressive. Time is running out, and we need to accelerate progress and although 2023’s summit presented some of the strongest progression there is an air of disappointment as “guidelines” are given on the phase out of fossil fuel instead of forcing change. However, reflecting the COP28 theme of ‘Action Builds Hope’, the team here at EO has been watching for new reasons to be optimistic in the actions of governments, companies, and scientists in Dubai this week.  

Helping people, businesses, and society transition away from oil is the reason we’re in business. It’s our mission to create a new charging ecosystem for electric vehicles (EVs) that enables the power of energy autonomy, so we’re hopeful COP28 will create positive outcomes. 

Things didn’t get off to the best start. The President, an engineer and economist from a major oil producing country, made some alarming remarks about the validity of climate change science. Sultan al-Jaber was reported to have said there was "no science" behind the need to end fossil fuel use to limit rising temperatures. Fortunately, he‘s since clarified his stance and confirmed he “believes and respects the science.” 

It’s vital we move away from oil. According to the International Energy Agency, global demand for fossil fuels is expected to peak before 2030. But this is not enough to meet the climate goals agreed in Paris back in 2015 to keep long-term warming "well below" 2oC and "pursue efforts" to limit it to 1.5oC. 

Road transport contributes about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to EVs will help to reduce these significantly. Over their lifetime, EVs can cut emissions by around two-thirds on average compared with petrol equivalents. 

It was great to see more than 100 countries committed this week to triple global renewable power capacity by 2030. As electricity gets cleaner, EVs will have even bigger emissions advantages. 

We’ve also seen the NDC partnership, which brings together more than 120 countries and 80 institutions worldwide, launch the world's first global zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) transition roadmap this week.  

This is designed to improve understanding and accessibility around the international push to decarbonise road travel and lay out the financing available to developing economies and new markets. It commits to an annual update at future COP events, helping to map the transition to cleaner travel on a global scale and ensure no country is left behind. 

It’s true to say we’ve been disheartened recently by the UK government’s narrative around carbon reduction ambitions. After it pushed back the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles back in September, we want to see more measures to incentivise EV adoption. 

So, when the Transport Secretary announced a £70 million pilot scheme this week to power up the UK’s motorway service areas to pave the way for ultra-rapid EV charge points, our mood lifted a little.  

Effective, reliable charging infrastructure supports EV adoption, especially at key locations like motorway services and fleet depots. New chargers are constantly being installed, but roll-out speeds need to increase drastically to keep up with demand. 

This pilot, funded by the Rapid Charging Fund, is a welcome development, particularly following the government’s recent commitment in the Autumn Statement to remove unnecessary planning constraints and accelerate the expansion of EV charging infrastructure. 

So, whilst the talking isn’t done, we’re encouraged to see how much the opportunities presented by EVs are being recognised within COP 28 conversations. Of course, it’s one thing debating and another thing doing, so the worthy words will only be valuable if they accelerate the uptake of EVs globally.  

We’re charged up and ready to help with that.  ‘Evie’, Sainsbury’s latest recruit, was put to the test to see whether the technology could be an efficient way of delivering groceries to customers in busy cities.