Statements and Articles

Eco-driving and global environment

Speaker: H.E. Ambassador Simona Miculescu
Location: UN Headquarters
Date: October 17th, 2014

Speech on eco-driving and global environment

October 17th, 2014



Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly impressed, if I may say so, to see such a high-powered list of people from the private, public, academia and NGO sectors in this room today all working on vital matters to do with eco-driving and climate change, within the framework of the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

You don't need me to tell you that the importance and urgency of the issues we gathered here to address require bold and decisive action from all sectors – public, business and individual consumers alike. All around the world we are increasingly faced with the complications caused by sometimes an inability to take the necessary action.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report so clearly tells us, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has increased, and is set further to increase in many parts of the world, as a direct result of anthropogenic climate change.

The facts and the science are clear and inescapable you would have thought, and so before us we have a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity – as individuals, as governments, companies, nations, and as an international community – to act with the scale and urgency needed to undertake the transition towards a radically more sustainable and resilient long-term global economic model.

One vital aspect of a global response to climate change is the actions individuals can take. Mobilizing individuals to respond personally to climate change, therefore, must be a complementary approach to a nation's climate change strategy. One action item that has not enjoyed enough attention is changing driver behavior or style in the manner that eco-driving becomes the norm rather than the exception. According to European Commission figures, passenger cars contribute approximately 12% of manmade CO2 emissions in Europe. Evidence to date indicates that eco-driving can reduce fuel consumption by 10 - 12%, on average and over time, thereby reducing CO2 emissions from driving by an equivalent percentage.

As climate change has risen up on the agenda, manufacturers have come under increasing pressure from consumers, NGOs and governments to do more to reduce the environmental impacts of their products. Thanks to ongoing research and innovation, vehicle emissions are gradually and steadily being reduced, although more rapidly in some segments and by some manufacturers than others. The range of technological approaches is broad – from improving existing technology through greater engine efficiency and structural efficiency, to developing power trains based on hybrid and electric technology, to building cars to use alternative fuels such as CNG (compressed natural gas).

However, reducing the emissions from driving isn’t just about making a more efficient vehicle; nor is it solely the responsibility of the car manufacturer. It is also about changing driver’s behaviour through employing techniques that reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Given that this is a low-cost change to implement, many governments feel strongly that eco-driving has an important role to play in efforts to reduce transport emissions. We need an integrated approach, involving manufacturer’s technological advances, as well as the role of the fuel sector, policy makers and drivers. Eco-driving sits very comfortable in such a broad vision.

As I have mentioned, the role of leadership and practical action from the private sector and individual level could not be more vital, and so I very much welcome today's opportunity to hear from manufacturers associations and others about the efforts undertaken by many to understand and reduce their carbon footprint through eco-driving techniques as part of their broader effort to ensure environment sustainability and combat climate change.

In all these efforts, I can only congratulate the governments and companies or entities involved for what they have done to date, and hope they don't mind if I just advice them – and all others not yet as committed – to do more to think about their impact in an integrated manner, and to sign up to further commitments.

In parallel to the climate negotiations, ladies and gentlemen, the international community has another enormous challenge before it between now and 2015: to define an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, capable both of 'finishing the unfinished business' of the Millennium Development Goals, while at the same time, equally critically, enabling humanity to live within planetary boundaries and in harmony with the natural environment upon which we so wholly depend.

Within the SDGs, a vital role for the private sector is envisaged: one in which a wide range of private sector actors – from multinational corporations to small and medium enterprises; pension funds; banks; institutional investors; insurance companies; sovereign wealth funds – can each play a role, through taking a long-term, responsible view in delivering and investing in low carbon development.

Things like genuinely sustainable cities - not just the "business as usual" model - and resilient landscapes for people are part of the new agenda which will require engagement at all levels: in other words, the private sector and civil society's role in creating 'the world we want’ is essential.

So I do hope the ideas shared in today's meeting will be helpful to companies and policymakers, which, at their turn, are responsible to spread them to individuals through appropriate campaigns.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can only conclude by saying once again how enormously grateful I am that you are here, there is no doubt that your collective, integrated influence and weight are crucial ingredients in delivering the kind of determined action that can transform seemingly endless discussions, debates and negotiations into the safe level resilient and more harmonious world we so urgently need for our children and grandchildren.

I thank you!

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