Europe’s largest electric vehicle rally has made a pit stop at the Palais des Nations in Geneva after travelling 1300 km in a bid to spur action and ambition for the fight against climate change.
The rally was initiated by UNEP Champion of the Earth Louis Palmer and the welcoming of cars in Geneva on 3 June was led by UNDP.
Around 100 electric cars travelled from the German town of Bremerhaven and parked in front of the Palais to form the number ‘1.5’. The Paris Agreement on climate change last year bound countries to “pursue efforts” to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.
“140 participants with 70 cars have visited 50 cities to deliver a simple but powerful message - yes, we have a problem with climate change and fossil fuels, but we have many pioneering solutions, and we can indeed limit warming at 1.5C,” stressed Mr Palmer – founder and organiser of the World Advanced Vehicle Expedition (WAVE).
Maria Luisa Silva, Director of the UNDP Office in Geneva, described the rally as being “very symbolic,” showing that the needed change really can happen, especially after the Paris Agreement.
The environmental adventurer, Ms. Silva and other speakers addressed a crowd from the back of a vintage electric pick-up truck. A number of retrofitted electric cars and vans were also present, as well as electric motorcycles and bicycles.
The Canton of Geneva itself has a master plan for charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles, said Luc Barthassat, State Councilor for the Environment, Transport and Agriculture - as well as measures to support cars running on other alternative fuels such as hydrogen.
Nick Beglinger, CEO of the Cleantech21 Foundation, meanwhile referred to the “elephant in the room” - pointing to a giant black cube situated in the middle of the square symbolising the 200kg of CO2 that an average car would have emitted completing the rally.
Keeping warming below 1.5C is also a fundamental human right, stressed Ambassador H.E. Elayne Whyte Gómez, Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations. Legislative action and financial as well as fiscal tools are needed to encourage people to shift towards alternative fuels and electric cars, she underlined.
Actions such as the rally “can promote political pressure and inform the public to make a change,” underlined Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of the humanitarian organisation CARE International.
New IPCC reports
Meanwhile, in order to better guide policymakers tasked with fighting climate change, a briefing was organised by the Geneva Environment Network on 16 June ahead of upcoming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
One of the papers will be on the impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels, with a greater focus on regional and national impacts than previously documented.
Rie Tsutsumi – Programme Officer and focal point for climate change at UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe - welcomed participants at the event, which included a question and answer session with Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.
UNEP supports countries in addressing climate change through adaptation measures and by building resilience. UNEP also supports countries’ transition towards low carbon societies and the Green Economy, as well as efforts contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
UNEP’s flagship Emissions Gap report - launched last November - spelled out the ambitions needed from countries to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and laid out options for doing so.
For further details on the WAVE initiative please click here.
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