Katowice, Poland

04 December 2018

The Secretary-General's remark at the E-Mobility event at COP24

Minister Kurtyka, Minister Morawiecki, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen 
It is a pleasure to address you at this exciting event.     
I want to thank the Government of Poland and in-coming COP president Mr. Kurtyka and the United Kingdom for launching this initiative.
This event is exciting because it is a key step towards the sustainability transition that we all know is needed.
And this step is critically important for reaching the aims of the Paris Agreement - to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.
Globally, transport accounted for one quarter of total emissions in 2016, a level 71% higher than what was seen in 1990.
It is estimated that over 1 billion passenger cars travel the streets and roads of the world today.
By 2040, the number of cars on the road across the globe is set to double to 2 billion at least.
This illustrates the urgency for accelerated action to reduce emissions from transport.
Looking at climate change, the need is obvious.
But the need is equally obvious when looking at air pollution.
Air pollution is now the fourth-highest cause of death worldwide. Long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to the deaths of 6.1 million people in 2016.
Clearly, we need to prevent this. Clearly, we need to act.
Interestingly, the first electric vehicles were produced and sold at the beginning of the 1900s and sales peaked in the early 1910s.
But technological developments and the discovery of large oil reserves displaced the electric vehicle in favour of the combustion engine.
Now, almost 100 years later, electric vehicles are coming back and need to increasingly displace the combustion engine in favour of reducing emissions and air pollution.
We need sustainable and clean transport systems.
The prospect for this is good as innovation and technological progress have led to significant advances in e-mobility.
The growing awareness for clean air and climate change means that many governments around the world have begun embracing e-mobility.
Many are putting in place the policy frameworks and infrastructure needed for sustainable transport.
A growing number of countries and regions have announced plans to phase out fossil fuel vehicles and to shift to e-mobility.
Others are putting in place targets for the absolute number or overall share of electric vehicles by 2020 or 2030.
And the International Energy Agency estimates that in 2017, there were already 3.5 million charging outlets for electric vehicles around the world.
These policy initiatives have spurred market growth for electric vehicles.
There is increasing demand and many businesses are embracing e-mobility and its new economic opportunities.
According to Bloomberg, by 204055% of all new car sales and 33% of the global fleet will be electric.
By some estimates, this will displace 7.3 million barrels per day of transport fuel.
This clearly shows the potential of e-mobility in contributing to climate change mitigation.
Many sustainable transport strategies also have large, immediate health benefits for the majority of the world’s population, and large equity benefits for vulnerable groups.
But the growth in electric vehicles will have a significant impact on electricity demand – and this needs to be kept in mind.
If not managed carefully, the additional demand will create challenges across all sections of the energy system, particularly at peak times.
E-mobility that depends on a fossil fuel-based energy system would potentially significantly drive climate change and air pollution and not lead to the solution we want.
According to IRENA, assuming all these new electric vehicles were to consume 100% renewable electricity, around 450 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year of additional renewable electricity would be required by 2030.
This is equivalent to 1.5% of today’s total global electricity generation.
We have the solutions at our finger tips. We have much of the technology in place. We have policies to drive and support sustainable transport. And market conditions and demand are responding positively.
The transition to e-mobility is clearly alive with opportunity.
But the transition needs to be carefully managed so that the world can yield all the potential benefits in full.
If we get this right, then a decarbonized transport system will be part of the solution.
The “Driving Change Together” declaration is an essential step towards a decarbonized transport system.
I applaud the Katowice Partnership for e-mobility and I urge all actors to support it. It provides all actors, including the private sector, with ever more clarity and confidence on the direction of travel.
By supporting it, you will contribute to reaching the aims of the Paris Agreement.
By supporting it, you will contribute to a sustainable future for the benefit of all.
Thank you