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WEF Launches Global New Mobility Coalition to cut Transport Emissions by 95%

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The World Economic Forum today launches its Global New Mobility Coalition (GNMC), a group of over 100 experts, NGOs and companies, to reduce passenger mobility emissions by 95% through combining shared, electric and autonomous mobility. By developing and testing new and unique policies with different cities, the GNMC will promote shared, electric and autonomous mobility (SEAM) to create a cleaner city and reduce carbon emissions by 95%. These technologies can also improve mobility efficiency by 70% while decreasing commuting costs by 40%.

Currently, emissions from mobility will double by 2050. Passenger vehicles account for 70% of these mobility GHG emissions and cause over 50% of city air pollution. With a SEAM mobility approach, we could reduce the number of vehicles from the projected 2.1 billion to 0.5 billion and carbon emissions from 4,600 to less than 700 megatons by 2050 while also accounting for increasing mobility demand.

“The average car owner produces more emissions by driving than any other activity. Now that new mobility solutions such as dock-less bikes and ride-hailing have abrupted commuting norms, private and public sector leaders have to rethink space and costs of mobility options,” said Maya Ben Dror, Lead, Autonomous and Urban Mobility, World Economic Forum. “Mobility systems that are truly sustainable and centred around people can and should be adopted.”

While clean and accessible transportation is possible with new mobility technologies, coordinated public-private action to achieve these goals is lagging behind. Concerted effort from business, policy-makers and citizens is needed to prevent irreversible climate warming; these efforts must begin quickly. The GNMC will work with local policymakers in Europe, China and the United States to develop unique policy frameworks that support this action.

Policies considered are those that cater for the long-term vision of sustainable mobility:

Prioritised lanes and zones for SEAM, including charging infrastructure and dedicated curb-space

For example, by investing in faster charging for high-occupancy shared rides, as opposed to single occupancy ones, not only will the electrification of fleets be encouraged but there will also be higher utilisation of every vehicle on the road. This will lead to less street space needed to move the same amount of people at equal or higher speeds. It takes 13 lanes to move 10,000 people in cars and just 2 to move them in high occupancy modes.

Road-pricing and parking fares as cost levers for internalising true mobility costs

The list of negative societal, environmental and economic impacts external to current costs of mobility is long; road pricing and parking fares can help account for these externalities. In London, for example, private gasoline-powered vehicles cause 80% of health-threatening particulate matter. Not surprisingly, London introduced congestion pricing that incentivize vehicles emitting less than 75g/km of CO2 or have nine seats. GNMC advocates for lower road, toll and zone pricing for shared-rides which are electric and where possible – automated.

Accelerating the use of SEAM technologies can also free up to 90% of street and parking space for other uses while ensuring mobility access for all. With this new space, citizens and policy-makers can reinvent uses that put people and cities, not cars, back to the centre.

The GNMC’s steering committee includes representatives from: Uber, Via, BMW, Ford, ClimateWorks, Energy Foundation China, RMI, China EV100, Technion, and UC Davis. Among its partner coalitions are C40, Polis Network, ITF, and AutoEV100.

Quotes from coalition members:

“The potential for shared, electric and autonomous technologies to provide affordable and sustainable mobility is tremendous. Achieving this potential will require collaboration between civil society, government, researchers and business to implement key enabling policies and the GNMC is a key venue for this collaboration,” says Anthony Eggert, Director, ClimateWorks.

“Transportation emissions are a major cause of climate change and inequality. To solve these problems, we need smart policies and effective partnerships between cities and the private sector to deliver sustainable, equitable, and efficient transportation solutions for all. Via looks forward to continuing to address transportation emissions as an inaugural member of the Global New Mobility Coalition,” says Andrei Greenawalt, Head of Policy, Via.

“The automobile industry has entered an unprecedented period of profound transformation and will develop rapidly towards the direction of electrified, intelligent, connected, shared and green mobility, which will give birth to a completely different travel ecology. Under this background, the Global New Mobility Coalition is launched here today. As China’s industry think tank promoting the development of EV industry and sustainable transportation, I am very happy to announce that China EV100 will cooperate with GNMC to promote public-private cooperation, turn knowledge into action, and strive for better future mobility and sustainable transportation,” says Zhang Yongwei, Secretary General of China EV100.

“The global community is demanding better from our transportation systems: we want them to be more efficient, more equitable, and less polluting. Getting this right will take a diverse array of research, business, and policy voices. The GNMC is an exciting opportunity for these communities to work together and harness the “3 Revolutions” of shared, automated, and electric mobility for a better future,” says Austin Brown, UC Davis.

“We’re proud to be a founding member of the GNMC. The majority of Uber’s portfolio is invested in sharing, electric and automated mobility technologies. It’s critical that we continue to work in collaboration with other experts – in the public and private sectors – to scale these innovations in ways that can address the long-standing environmental challenges cities face from transportation,” says Adam Gromis, Head of Sustainability Policy, Uber.

“I’m delighted to be a member of the Global New Mobility Coalition on behalf of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s a critical time for the public and private sectors, as well as academia and non-governmental organizations, to partner in developing strategies and understanding to maximize the social and environmental benefits of integrated shared, electric (zero-emission), and automated mobility (SEAM),” says Professor Susan Shaheen, Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

About the Global New Mobility Coalition

The Global New Mobility Coalition (GNMC) is a group of over 100 institutions brought together by the World Economic Forum to support a reduction in carbon emissions, increased transport efficiency and other goals through increased use of shared, electric and autonomous mobility technology. The GNMC aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 95%, improve transport efficiency by 70% and reduce mobility costs by 40% with its policy frameworks.

Currently, the GNMC has over 100 members from North America, Europe and Asia, of which 40% are from the private sector, 35% NGOs and 25% academia.

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No pathway to reach the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C goal without the G20

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“The world urgently needs a clear and unambiguous commitment to the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement from all G20 nations”, António Guterres said on Sunday after the Group failed to agree on the wording of key climate change commitments during their recent Ministerial Meeting on Environment, Climate and Energy.

“There is no pathway to this goal without the leadership of the G20. This signal is desperately needed by the billions of people already on the frontlines of the climate crisis and by markets, investors and industry who require certainty that a net zero climate resilient future is inevitable”, the Secretary General urged in a statement.

The UN chief reminded that science indicates that to meet that ‘ambitious, yet achievable goal’, the world must achieve carbon neutrality before 2050 and cut dangerous greenhouse gas emissions by 45 % by 2030 from 2010 levels. “But we are way off track”, he warned.

The world needs the G20 to deliver

With less than 100 days left before the 2021 United Nations Climate Conference COP 26, a pivotal meeting that will be held in Glasgow at the end of October, António Guterres urged all G20 and other leaders to commit to net zero by mid-century, present more ambitious 2030 national climate plans and deliver on concrete policies and actions aligned with a net zero future.

These include no new coal after 2021, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and agreeing to a minimum international carbon pricing floor as proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The G7 and other developed countries must also deliver on a credible solidarity package of support for developing countries including meeting the US$100 billion goal, increasing adaptation and resilience support to at least 50% of total climate finance and getting public and multilateral development banks to significantly align their climate portfolios to meet the needs of developing countries”, he highlighted.

The UN Chief informed that he intends to use the opportunity of the upcoming UN General Assembly high-level session to bring leaders together to reach a political understanding on these critical elements of the ‘package’ needed for Glasgow.

A setback for Glasgow

The G20 ministers, which met in Naples, Italy on July 23-25, couldn’t agree to a common language on two disputed issues related to phasing out coal and the 1.5-degree goal, which now will have to be discussed at the G20 summit in Rome in October, just one day before the COP 26 starts.

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Western Indian Ocean region has declared 550,000 square kilometers as protected

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The Western Indian Ocean region has declared 143* marine and coastal areas as protected – an area covering 553,163 square kilometers, representing 7 percent of the total Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for the region – according to a new publication by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-Nairobi Convention and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association.

The Marine Protected Areas Outlook, released today, indicates that almost half of the total area – an estimated 63 percent of the overall square kilometers – was brought under protection in the seven years since the 2015 adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 14.5, which committed countries to conserving at least 10 percent of their marine and coastal areas by 2020.

This Outlook examines the current and future status of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Comoros, Kenya, France (in its Western Indian Ocean territories), Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania, emphasizing the increased commitment of countries to strengthen marine protection. In 2019 alone, Seychelles brought 30 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone under protection, safeguarding the habitats of 2,600 species, while South Africa declared 20 new MPAs – enabling both countries to exceed the 10 percent target. Comoros has developed new MPA-specific legislation, while over three hundred Locally Managed Marine Areas – i.e., areas in which coastal communities shoulder the mantle of conservation – have been declared across the region.

The publication further documents the dozens of proposed MPAs currently under consideration by countries, which would cover an additional 50,000 square kilometers or more. Nevertheless, with only 7 percent of the region’s total EEZ under protection, greater momentum and investments will be required by countries to reach the more ambitious target of 30 percent protection by 2030, as proposed under the Global Biodiversity Framework.  

Although the ocean provides us with resources essential for survival, including food, employment, and even oxygen, the world is damaging and depleting it faster than ever. Soon, the region may no longer be able to count on the many jobs, health, and economic benefits – valued at 20.8 billion USD – that the Western Indian Ocean provides. Marine protected areas offer one of the best options to reverse these trends. 

“A well-managed MPA can bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to a country,” said Yamkela Mngxe, Acting Director of Integrated Projects and International Coordination in South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. “They can increase food security by preventing the overexploitation of fish stocks; create and protect jobs in the tourism and fisheries sectors; build resilience to climate change; and protect species and habitats.”

Though countries in the region have made significant strides in protecting its marine and coastal areas, the Outlook outlines best practices, challenges, and several opportunities to build on thisprogressto ensure the entire region meets future Global Biodiversity Framework targets on marine protected areas. The Outlook’s assessment of the management effectiveness of MPAs indicates that MPA frameworks and institutions do not always function effectively. Nor is relevant legislation consistently implemented, due to financial or personnel capacity gaps; weak enforcement on MPA boundaries; and management decisions that are not guided by science.

Key recommendations from the Outlook therefore include:

  1. The need for dedicated budgets for MPA management;
  2. Adopting proactive law enforcement and compliance strategies to ensure MPA regulations and guidelines are being respected which could be informed by the best practices in fishery reserves like Mauritius, which have helped to restore fish stocks and protect biodiversity;
  3. Incorporating research and monitoring programmes on biodiversity and ecosystems into decision-making in MPAs;
  4. Strengthening community engagement in marine protection by implementing lessons learned by the MIHARI Network, which brings together more than 200 Locally Managed Marine Areas in Madagascar.

“The MPA Outlook comes at a time when the region has embarked on large-scale socio-economic developments that are equally exerting pressure on MPAs,” said Hon. Flavien Joubert,Minister of Agriculture, Climate Change, and Environment of the Seychelles. “The Outlook thus provides some answers and innovative approaches to minimize the scale of negative impacts on MPAs.”

The MPA Outlook concludes that by seizing the opportunities it presents, countries in the region can capitalize on this progress to safeguard the Western Indian Ocean’s immense natural beauty and resources for generations to come – and sustain momentum towards achievement of the post 2020 biodiversity framework targets.

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Deadly flooding, heatwaves in Europe, highlight urgency of climate action

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Floods have affected cities across Europe, including Zurich in Switzerland. Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

Heavy rainfall that has triggered deadly and catastrophic flooding in several western European countries, is just the latest indicator that all nations need to do more to hold back climate change-induced disasters, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

The agency said that countries including Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands had received up to two months’ rain in two days from 14 to 15 July, on ground that was “already near saturation”.

Photos taken at the scene of some of the worst water surges and landslides show huge, gaping holes where earth and buildings had stood until mid-week, after media reports pointed to well over 100 confirmed fatalities in Germany and Belgium on Friday morning, with an unknown number still missing across vast areas.

“We’ve seen images of houses being…swept away, it’s really, really devastating”, said WMO spokesperson Clare Nullis adding that that the disaster had overwhelmed some of the prevention measures put in place by the affected developed countries.

In a statement issued by his Spokesperson, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said he was saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property. “He extends his condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims and to the Governments and people of the affected countries.”

The UN chief said the UN stood ready to contribute to ongoing rescue and assistance efforts, if necessary.

“Europe on the whole is prepared, but you know, when you get extreme events, such as what we’ve seen – two months’ worth of rainfall in two days – it’s very, very difficult to cope,” added Ms. Nullis, before describing scenes of “utter devastation” in Germany’s southwestern Rhineland-Palatinate state, which is bordered by France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Highlighting typical preparedness measures, the WMO official noted In Switzerland’s national meteorological service, MeteoSwiss, had a smartphone application which regularly issued alerts about critical high-water levels.

The highest flood warning is in place at popular tourist and camping locations including lakes Biel, Thun and the Vierwaldstattersee, with alerts also in place for Lake Brienz, the Rhine near Basel, and Lake Zurich.

Dry and hot up north

In contrast to the wet conditions, parts of Scandinavia continue to endure scorching temperatures, while smoke plumes from Siberia have affected air quality across the international dateline in Alaska. Unprecedented heat in western north America has also triggered devastating wildfires in recent weeks.

Among the Scandinavian countries enduring a lasting heatwave, the southern Finnish town of Kouvola Anjala, has seen 27 consecutive days with temperatures above 25C. “This is Finland, you know, it’s not Spain, it’s not north Africa,”, Ms. Nullis emphasised to journalists in Geneva.

“Certainly, when you see the images we’ve seen in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands this week it’s shocking, but under climate change scenarios, we are going to see more extreme events in particular extreme heat,” the WMO official added.

Troubled waters

Concerns persist about rising sea temperatures in high northern latitudes, too, Ms. Nullis said, describing the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea at a “record” high, “up to 26.6C on 14 July”, making it the warmest recorded water temperature since records began some 20 years ago.

Echoing a call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to all countries to do more to avoid a climate catastrophe linked to rising emissions and temperatures, Ms. Nullis urged action, ahead of this year’s UN climate conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow, in November.

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