On the face of it, this month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) green grandstanding, pat on the back session represented a shift away from transportation and mobility compared to last year’s event in Glasgow.
Although it is worth noting that was even a last-minute addition made by the hosting UK government, but it did at least see the launch of the “Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Declaration” to accelerate the transition to all new cars and vans being zero emission by 2035 at the latest in leading markets, and 2040 globally, in line with Paris Agreement climate goals.
In the intervening 12 months that declaration now has over 210 signatories – from national and sub-national governments, to manufacturers, businesses and fleet owners – compared to the 130 that signed on at COP26.
With new signatories including France, Spain, Egypt’s own Abou Ghaly Motors and India’s Vikram Solar, the UK government argued that the impact of the ZEV Declaration is already being realised. Noting that BloombergNEF’s newly published ZEV Factbook shows that 2022 is set to be a record year for ZEV sales, with electric vehicles comprising 13.2% of all new vehicles sold in the first half of 2022, the UK told the meeting and media that this will speed up the move away from fossil fuels, with the expected adoption of electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles avoiding almost 1.7 million barrels of oil use per day in 2022, about 3.8% of total demand.
“The ZEV declaration signed at COP26 was a major milestone bringing together leading actors to accelerate the transition to 100 percent new car sales being zero emission by 2040, and 2035 in leading markets,” explained Alok Sharma, COP26 President.
During COP27, a new initiative was launched called Accelerating to Zero Coalition (A2Z). This is a partnership between the UK, the UN High Level Action Champions team, the Climate Group, the International Council on Clean Transportation and the Drive Electric Campaign, who will work together to promote a faster global ZEV transition and help signatories implement those commitments by providing bespoke workshops, assistance and access to a international community of best practice.
“There are still huge opportunities in emerging markets and developing economies which is why I’m pleased to formally launch the Accelerating To Zero Coalition,” added Sharma. “This coalition provides the platform for countries to go further and faster and to ensure that no country is left behind.”
The US meanwhile has been setting about the task of trying to push funding and companies together to encourage ZEV adoption and the needed charging infrastructure to emerging markets.
According to the co-ordinator, the ZEV Transition Council (ZEVTC): “While ZEV deployment is growing exponentially in select countries, several Emerging Markets and Developing Economies have not begun to lay the foundation needed to meet government and private sector medium- to long-term deployment goals. Studies show that Developing Economies in particular need policies that lower ZEV import tariffs, reduce ZEV charging rates, and support the buildout of charging infrastructure.
“Moreover, vehicle exhaust leads to nearly 400,000 premature deaths every year and gasoline consumption requires expensive oil imports, demonstrating that adopting ZEVs has significant benefits for public health and energy security. Several large, EMDE countries have set goals to deploy ZEVs but uptake has been limited. Private companies as well are developing ambitious goals, but they are largely reliant on ZEV uptake in EMDE countries”.
It is hoped that his initiative will (almost One-Belt-esque) help both countries and companies achieve their ambitious ZEV deployment goals by “fostering communication of potential private sector investment targets and private sector advocacy” for planned policy measures that will enable their achievement. Working through the ZEV-TC structure, including with its partners, the US State Department said it will help bring together groups of companies prepared to undertake ZEV-related investments in given countries and will facilitate their engagement with respective governments with the aim of producing country and company announcements by COP 28.
The US also put his clout behind the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles which has leading countries commit to working together to enable 100% zero-emission new truck and bus sales by 2040 with an interim goal of 30% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, to facilitate achievement of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. While this is a laudable target, it is currently heavily undersubscribed with just 26 signatory countries and a cohort of specialist EV truck makers like Volta and power makers like Eaton. It is great to see DHL and Scania on-board too – but much like the ZEV Declaration’s progress last year, there is much work to be done ahead of the next COP meetings.
BEEAH signs up
Given its green advocacy in the Middle East, it was perhaps unsurprising to see BEEAH Group sign the ZEV Declaration and join the call for governments, businesses, and organisations to rapidly accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Around 200 signatories to the declaration, initiated by the UK Presidency, are now setting a roadmap so that by 2040, all new van and car sales will be zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV).
“As a pioneer for sustainability in the Middle East, we have been committed to setting the pace for sustainable action,” said Khaled Al Huraimel, group CEO of BEEAH Group.
“Through our businesses and innovations, we have demonstrated several models to advance net-zero emissions and zero-waste to landfill strategies. Now, as the first organisation in the UAE to sign the ZEV declaration, we are hoping to lead by example and showcase tangible business benefits to using emissions-free fleets for operations, combining electric and hydrogen fuel solutions.”
In line with the UAE’s sustainability roadmap and the Net-Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, BEEAH Group says it has already made advancements to lower emissions across its businesses and projects.
Within its holding group structure, one of BEEAH Group’s major businesses is its waste collection and city cleaning business, BEEAH Tandeef.
Its fleet of thousands of vehicles comprises electric models, which enable operations across the UAE, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, including in the city of Sharm El Sheikh where COP27 is being held. BEEAH Tandeef’s services in Sharm El Sheikh began a few days prior to COP27.
A digitally enabled fleet, hundreds of innovative bins, as well as a large skilled workforce have been deployed to tourist hotspots, public spaces and residential areas in Sharm El Sheikh. Cleaning personnel and bins are also serving the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre, where COP27 is being held. Following the conference, BEEAH Tandeef will continue to deliver its services as part of a 10-year contract in the city.
BEEAH Group has also placed the Middle East’s largest order for fully electric Tesla Semis, which once developed will be one of the fastest and safest freight trucks in the world. Through its green and autonomous mobility business, BEEAH Transport, the Group has been exploring next-generation innovation in sustainable mobility and testing models for smarter, emissions-free transport.
“Zero-emissions vehicles will be essential to creating accessible, hyperconnected transport networks in the smart, sustainable cities of the future. Through BEEAH Transport, our dedicated business driven towards the green mobility transition, we will continue to drive the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles across industries, as well as solutions that support the need for green mobility infrastructure in the region,” the BEEAH Group CEO added.
The UK Presidency initiated the ZEV Declaration at COP26 in Glasgow last year and has since had many governments, companies, automobile manufacturers and fleet operators sign on to the pledge.
Speaking on the development, Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP26, said: “BEEAH Group is our first Race to Zero signatory in the UAE to sign on to the ZEV Declaration, which is a critical development as countries in the Middle East region have high vehicle densities. By making the switch to zero-emission vehicles, BEEAH Group is taking a decisive step towards achieving the net-zero ambition and contributing to the local, regional, and global sustainability agenda. During COP27, we expect that more governments and non-state actors in the Middle East will be inspired to act towards an emission-free mobility sector in the region.”
Representing UAE at COP27, BEEAH Group exhibited its milestone projects that have contributed to a future of net-zero emissions, zero-waste to landfill and infrastructure for sustainable, smart cities.
One of the key projects being showcased is the Sharjah Waste to Energy Plant, the region’s first commercial-scale plant of its kind. The plant is equipped to divert 300,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill every year while meeting the power needs of approximately 28,000 homes in Sharjah. The plant is the inaugural project of the Emirates Waste to Energy company, a joint venture between BEEAH Group and Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.
The Group also highlighted its state-of-the-art Waste Management Centre, which has been the driving force for the emirate of Sharjah in achieving 76% landfill waste diversion. The complex is managed and operated by BEEAH Recycling, the Group’s recycling, and material recovery business. It comprises ten specialised facilities equipped with digital technologies and advanced machinery, which help automate waste sorting and processing to recover valuable material for reintroduction into the circular economy.
The BEEAH Group Headquarters building is also being displayed at the pavilion as a model for offices of the future and infrastructure in tomorrow’s sustainable, smart cities. Integrated with future AI and digital twin technologies, the Headquarters is built to operate at net-zero, LEED Platinum standards. Featuring the lauded design of the late Dame Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s most influential architects of her time, the building also offers an unparalleled environment for employee comfort and productivity.
Speaking about BEEAH Group’s participation, Al Huraimel added: “We are proud to be part of the UAE delegation to COP27. It is great to be part of the global conversation on planning and taking climate action. By showcasing the projects that are contributing to the UAE’s sustainability agenda, we hope to offer models for success in achieving a sustainable quality of life for all.
“Following the ZEV declaration, we also look forward to the next chapter of collaboration and innovation to solidify our efforts and impact towards a future of net-zero emissions.”