Spread the ideas, not the virus: This is not the time to backtrack on climate commitments

Hoping the inevitable won’t happen is not a good strategy for tackling the existential challenges we face as a society.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us how unthinkable – yet, sadly, inevitable – events can change the world overnight. Borders closed, planes stopped flying, entire countries went into lockdown, and families lost loved ones.  

The same will happen when it comes to human-made climate change. Unless we act now, we will sleepwalk into the next inevitable catastrophe. The climate emergency that we faced before COVID-19 is still an emergency today. Our planet is still on fire.

And yet, despite the dangers, there have been calls to delay a whole range of EV-related commitments from investments into infrastructure to delaying the introduction of stricter carbon dioxide standards for new vehicles.

We believe this is misguided and dangerous. Backtracking on the transition to zero emission mobility won’t suddenly restart car sales – it could hurt them, given the growing popular demand for electric vehicles. The numbers support this: the first months of 2020 saw an unprecedented growth in sales of electric cars, growing by 92% despite an overall decline in new car sales.  

That’s why, together with our partners in the EV100 organisation, we are calling on EU policymakers to continue to support for investments into EV technology and infrastructure and to keep in place the EU’s 2020 CO2 targets for passenger cars – unchanged and in full.

We desperately need to keep the momentum going, and cannot roll back our ambitions or make short-sighted concessions.

Several years ago, LeasePlan set the ambitious goal to achieve net zero emissions from our entire fleet by 2030, starting with our employee fleet. Even in times of unprecedented change, when global supply chains are being disrupted in ways never seen before, this ambition continues to be at the heart of everything we do.

But we are not alone in this: policymakers, OEMs, energy companies and infrastructure providers must all play their part and make it possible for everyone to go green. We must stand firm, as a community, and say: we will continue the transition to zero emission mobility.

When we gather in Glasgow for the next UN COP meeting, we should be able to show as an industry how we have used the pandemic to flatten the emissions curve. Most importantly, we must be able to show that we have learnt one of the hardest lessons from today’s crisis: either we live in coexistence with nature today, or there will be no existence tomorrow.

Author: Tex Gunning, CEO, LeasePlan

Mr Gunning is one of the speakers of the leasing industry panel debate, part of the 2020 Global Fleet Virtual Conference. Register now on the event website or via the event app, Attendify.

With the Blog 'Spread the ideas, not the virus' we aim to support the fleet & mobility industry at times of the global spread of the coronavirus. We give the opportunity to our community to express their opinion, their ideas, their support in the format of a letter of max. 500 words to our community. It’s your personal insight to share with your peers and partners in the industry. Send your letter to Steven Schoefs, sschoefs@nexuscommunication.be

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck