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Cities, Countries, Companies to Automakers: You Have the Keys to a Zero-Emissions Future

Image credit: Matthew Henry/Shopify Burst

States, regions, cities and international business are uniting to use their purchasing and policy influence to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) around the world through a new Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Challenge, launched today.

Led by The Climate Group and C40 Cities, the ZEV Challenge is being supported by the State of California, the regions of Australian Capital Territory and Navarra, the cities of Paris, London, Milan, Rome, Copenhagen, Mexico City, Medellín, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and New York City, and companies including Unilever, EDF Energy and LeasePlan. Together they represent millions of dollars in purchasing power and are urging others to join them to speed up the global roll-out of EVs.

“The ZEV Challenge resonates with our belief in the electrification of the economy, and when beliefs are aligned with actions, people are happy to deliver. People get the sense of urgency and this helps us align our strategy with concrete goals,” said EDF Energy President Jean-Bernard Levy.

The group hopes the Challenge will help demonstrate that more demand already exists for electric vehicles, while also amplifying their existing efforts, which up to now have been focused on separate sectors and goals related to reducing emissions.

“Although we’re seeing the appetite for EVs rise every day, the vehicles, infrastructure or policies to meet this demand aren’t there yet,” said Tex Gunning, CEO of LeasePlan. “We’re therefore delighted to join the Global ZEV Challenge and work with the industry to make zero emission mobility a reality.

“Starting electric can be one of the easiest ways to tackle climate change, but only if everyone rises to the ZEV Challenge.”

The ZEV Challenge includes calls to action for several groups: businesses are encouraged to join The Climate Group’s EV100, a commitment to fleet electrification by 2030 and charging infrastructure; states and regions can join the new Under2 Coalition ZEV initiative focused on procurement, infrastructure and policy, run in cooperation with the ZEV Alliance; and cities can take action through initiatives such as C40 Cities’ Green & Healthy Streets Declaration.

“States and regions can play a major role in shaping the electric vehicle market. In Navarra, we achieved an 82 percent surge in EVs year on year, with progressive policies such as a 30 percent tax deduction for individuals and companies purchasing EVs,” said Manu Ayerdi, VP for Economic Development in Navarra. “We urge other states and regions to support the ZEV Challenge to help move the market and for the automotive industry to be ready to meet the demand.”

Several of the participating Mayors noted some of the actions they are taking and echoed the ZEV Challenge’s largest call to action – a call for the auto sector to step up.

“The citizens of Paris and cities around the world demand clean air to breathe,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40 Cities. “As mayors of the world’s great cities we are transforming the way that our citizens move around the city - prioritising walking, cycling, and clean public transport through initiatives like C40’s Green & Healthy Streets Declaration. I urge car manufacturers to seize this opportunity and help us shape a sustainable future, by accelerating the shift to electric vehicles.”

“We need to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles in Latin America,” said José Ramón Amieva, Mayor of Mexico City. “Car manufacturers have a key role in offering clean alternatives at much more competitive and affordable prices in order to accelerate the technological shift in the use of fossil fuels and improve air quality in cities. As C40 Mayors, we have committed to deliver concrete actions on zero emissions mobility, and Mexico City is already working on the first Electric Bus corridor in the country, and one of the firsts in the region.”

Automakers are being asked to signal their willingness to work towards an endgame for combustion engine vehicles, and in the meantime commit to a ZEV percentage of sales by 2025. Several countries including France and the UK have already announced end dates for the sale of vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel-fueled engines. Other regions, including California, have committed to put certain numbers of zero-emissions vehicles on their roads and highways.

“Zero emission vehicles are the way to go,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., who recently issued a state Executive Order to deliver 5 million new zero-emissions vehicles on California roads by 2030. “They’re good for people’s health, they’re good for the air and they’re good for helping to stop the catastrophic increase in global warming.”

The Climate Group stated that the ZEV Challenge provides an opportunity for key players in the auto sector to position themselves as leaders in the large-scale transition to electric vehicles, increase the speed to a ‘zero emissions future,’ and play a full role to deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“The auto industry knows this is a global trend and many are racing to be part of it. Companies that fail to adapt do so at their peril,” said Mary D. Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board. “We call on all manufacturers to join us in this historic transformation, to be leaders in the race that will leave old-style combustion-driven, inefficient, pollution-spewing engines in the dust. That’s our challenge.”


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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