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Zero emissions vehicles challenge

Explore why transitioning to zero-emission vehicles is particularly important for European countries
An electric charger plugged in to a car
© stevanovicigor via Envato Elements

Transitioning to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies is crucial for decarbonising road transport and meeting climate goals, as 21% of human related CO2 emissions come from cars, vans, buses and trucks.

Urban mobility

The issue of urban mobility is particularly important for European countries, where over 75% of the population is concentrated in densely populated urban areas. In finding a solution to this issue we need to consider the technical, economic, social and environmental feasibility. To add to this complexity, the threat of future pandemics has impacted public attitudes regarding mobility and public transportation.

Sustainable urban mobility

According to Eltis, a Europe-based observatory on urban mobility, sustainable urban mobility requires ‘a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings for a better quality of life.’

There are a number of criteria essential to developing such a plan:

  • promote access to safe and efficient modes of transport
  • are cost effective
  • improve the impact of transport on the environment.

Strategic directions in Dublin and Paris

Below are examples of strategic directions to accelerate the transition to Zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) technology.

ZEVs do not use petroleum fuels and therefore do not emit greenhouse gas emissions from the tailpipe. Battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are examples of these technologies.


The city of Dublin did an assessment of two electric vehicles (EV) uptake scenarios.

1) CAP Ambition. This aligned with the 2030 Climate Action Plan (CAP) targets and aim at having:

  • 936,000 EVs on the road by 2030.

2) Medium. This was considered a more realistic trajectory and forecast that the stock of the city’s EVs for 2030 would rise to include:

  • 120,000 cars
  • 12,500 vans
  • 2,500 taxis
  • 3,000 2 wheelers.

Growth in the number of EVs in Ireland will receive continued support through government mechanisms and Ireland’s Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to meet CAP transition targets.


Partners to the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change aim to accelerate Paris’ energy transition from carbon fuels to renewable sources, by at least 20%, by 2030.

One of the city’s key measures to encourage EV uptake and combat air pollution, is to make improvements to its electric vehicle sharing programs Vélib. Citizens who give up their ICE vehicles may be eligible for financial compensation to help them subscribe to Vélib’. Through these measures the city aims to:

  • decrease its traffic and NO2 emissions
  • contribute to the development of a sharing economy
  • improve the air quality and respiratory health of its residents.

Further reading

If you would like to explore some of the concepts we have covered in more depth, the following resources are optional.

Electric car sales are on the rise – is coronavirus a turning point for the market?

Cars of the future that will help fight climate change

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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Electric Mobility in the Age of Climate Change

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