Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Transportation. Source Calstart Drive to Zero
Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Transportation. Source: Calstart Drive to Zero

The Drive to Zero initiative advocates for a Beachhead Strategy to target segments where zero- and near-zero technologies are most likely to succeed. China, Germany and Japan are among those joining Canada in making the pledge ahead of next week’s Clean Energy Ministerial

Eight nations joined Canada this week in announcing their commitment to the Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero, a pledge to grow zero-emission commercial vehicle manufacturing, infrastructure and deployment domestically and globally.

Canada was the first country to make the Drive to Zero pledge last June. Joining it on Wednesday were China, Germany, Finland, Japan, Chile, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The Drive to Zero pledge is an initiative of CALSTART, a California-based non-profit and broker for the clean transportation technology industry.

“Freight is often overlooked in the discussion, but is crucial for us to meet our climate goals and improve the liveability in cities,” Stientje van Veldhoven, Minister for the Environment of the Netherlands and chair of the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance.

Beachhead strategy

The partners’ primary commitment is to work together to support and accelerate market viability for zero-emission commercial vehicles. By 2025, Drive to Zero aims to achieve this in market segments where zero-emission technology is likely to succeed first, then work towards full market penetration by 2040.

To tackle the first phase, it has developed a “beachhead strategy” in the most promising segments. Success in those areas is expected to then create pathways into other new segments where the technology can flourish next.

Drive to Zero Beachhead Strategy. Source Calstart Drive to Zero
Drive to Zero Beachhead Strategy. Source: Calstart Drive to Zero

We appreciate that given the state of the technology… and economic factors, that zero-emission technology can be commercially viable sooner in certain applications than others,” reads the pledge.

“By working together globally, and making these targeted segments successful… there will be substantial benefits in terms of economies of scale and supply chain development…. The technology will then have a stronger chance of succeeding in the entire commercial vehicle market in a time frame that is relevant to the goals set forth in the 2015 global ‘Paris Agreement’.”

Canada, China co-lead

The announcement was made at a pre-event in advance of next week’s Eleventh Clean Energy Ministerial, an international forum designed to encourage energy ministers to push forward programs and policies to advance clean energy technology. Canada and China are co-leads of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Electric Vehicles Initiative, which yesterday also formally recognized the Drive to Zero pledge as one of its official campaigns.

“Our economy depends on the efficient movement of goods. Greener commercial vehicles will lower global emissions,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “Today, I call upon other governments and the private sector to join us in the campaign.”

In addition to these nine nations, there are over 80 additional subnational Drive to Zero pledge partners, include the cities of Vancouver, Oslo, New York and Los Angeles, as well as corporations such as BYD, New Flyer Industries, Siemens, and IKEA’s Ingka Group.

“The announcement by several new nations to join the Drive to Zero campaign reflects a rapid growing awareness about the near-term commercial prospects of zero-emission trucks and buses,” said John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART.

“By joining the program and coordinating policies across nations, we’ll be able to more quickly achieve global economies of scale.”