We need strategic collaboration to scale investments in zero-emission transport

Published: 17 Nov 2022
Author: Thomas Deloison, Director Mobility, WBCSD
Type: Insight

The global transport community is convening in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, during the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to lead progress in transport decarbonization. This year, stakeholders across sectors have an impetus to find solutions for a just and inclusive global transition toward zero-emission transport under the leadership of the Egyptian presidency Low Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability (LOTUS) initiative.  

While many initiatives for accelerating transport decarbonization globally exist, a siloed approach often prevents the creation of synergies that can help reach the scale and risk profiles to mobilize investments for large-scale transformative zero-emission transport plans. 

To solve this issue, sustainability organizations must join forces to aggregate and design projects that will help institutional investors and sovereign funds to increase and accelerate investments in sustainable transport. 

Today, five leading organizations and the High-Level Climate Champions took a step in the right direction. Together they announced the "Collective for Clean Transport Finance," a strategic collaboration - whose membership will continue expanding over the coming year - aimed at scaling the demand and shifting the risk profile of zero-emission transport projects.  

The task ahead of us will be challenging. Among all sectors, transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels and accounts for 24% of global emissions. But this new trend of strategic collaboration between zero-emission transport initiatives provides the ground for an accelerated transition. 

Building on existing success 

Much remarkable work is already happening in the transport sector. Initiatives like the GEF-funded Global E-Mobility Program or the work done by ZEV-TC provide a practical canvas for a global transition to zero-emission vehicles. 

In parallel, The Global Facility for Decarbonizing Transport, hosted by the World Bank, offers innovative mechanisms to reduce risks in zero-emission transport investments.  

The Sustainable Mobility Finance Initiative of The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation works to connect institutional investors with large-scale transformative projects, particularly in transport.  

The Smart Freight Centre is catalyzing necessary momentum on medium and heavy-duty vehicle decarbonization with the Sustainable Freight Buyers Alliance, funded by the We Mean Business Coalition.  

Members of the WBCSD Transport Decarbonization project are participating in several of these initiatives, advocating for solutions to the replicability and investment challenges of the transition to zero-emission transport. 

How to increase impact together 

While each of the initiatives above are achieving positive impacts in specific transport segments and geographies, fragmentation among organizations in the field stands in the way of adopting a truly global approach.  

The new Collective will pave the way forward by initiating "lighthouse projects" that will introduce integrated frameworks that enable the scaling of investments in transport segments such as e-buses and e-Bus rapid transit, road freight, and two- and three-wheelers.  

In practice, the Collective will develop strategic collaboration between governments, businesses and investors to aggregate the demand needed to create scale in zero-emission transport projects, change the risk profile of potential large-scale projects through financial engineering, and provide technical assistance to design large-scale implementable projects. 

The announcement of the new Collective coincides with the creation of the Blended Finance Alliance, to be announced at the G20 in Bali, Indonesia, demonstrating the momentum for international coordination and providing a focal point for transport for the Blended Finance Alliance. 

This allows for optimism about the road ahead for the transport sector. By mobilizing their respective strengths through the Collective for Clean Transport Finance, the participating organizations can create synergies toward a shared goal of bringing initial results of the lighthouse projects to COP28 in time for the global stock-take. 

To learn more about the Collective for Clean Transport Finance, you can read the concept note at this link and send further inquiries to Thomas Deloison, Director Mobility deloison@wbcsd.org 

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