Our Industry · Nov 15, 2021

2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference


As the world meets to accelerate climate action going forward, e-mobility, and e-bikes in particular, have got to be part of the discussion.

E-mobility has taken a key place in this year’s 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), with an entire day dedicated to the discussion, leaders being transported by e-bus, police riding electric Harley-Davidsons, and businesses and nations alike coordinating on new climate goals for air, road and maritime transport.

Coordination over the transport industry in particular took place on the 11th day of the conference, featuring solutions for eco-first shipping, car travel, air travel and other modes of transport.

But what did this actually mean? What was agreed on at COP26 for the global transport sector going forward? Here are a few of the key highlights and why we think e-bikes should factor more into the overall picture of a greener, more sustainable world.

COP26 Goals

First, let's establish what the key goals set out by COP26 were going into the conference. What drove the discussion? There were four main themes: to mobilise global finances, to encourage and enable adaptation to climate change, to hit net-zero and to set up closer collaborations to achieve climate goals.

Mobile Finances - Zero Emissions by 2050

Mobile Finances

The conference recognised that in order to achieve its goals, developed countries must work together to mobilise funding in aid of climate action.

Adapt to Protect - Zero Emissions by 2050

Adapt to Protect

Nations agreed to help enable countries affected by climate change to adapt, restoring ecosystems and protecting their communities.

Zero Emissions - Zero Emissions by 2050

Secure Net-Zero

Countries involved in the conference were asked for 2030 emissions reductions targets that would get them to net-zero by the middle of the century.

Collaborate to Deliver - Zero Emissions by 2050

Collaborate to Deliver

Countries at COP26 committed to pushing forward collaborations between governments, businesses and society to address climate change.

Transport Day

So what about the day set aside for the transport sector in particular?

According to COP26, road transport accounts for 10% of global emissions and its emissions are rising faster than those of any other sector. The need for our global leaders to act, and act fast, has never been more urgent.

So on the 10th of November, leaders turned their attention to four key topics: the potential establishment of green shipping corridors, zero-emission road transport, net-zero for aviation and a greener future for road freights and trucks.

The UK discussed its Transport Decarbonisation Plan, pledging to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses, and inspired commitments from more than 30 countries and dozens of businesses to zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 in leading markets. They set a 2040 deadline for all other markets.

18 countries signed a new declaration supporting emissions targets for aviation in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature pathway, countries which collectively are allegedly responsible for over 40% of the world’s emissions from aviation.

In the maritime sector, a new ‘Clydebank Declaration’ was formed, uniting at least 19 nations in heading for zero-emission shipping routes between their ports.

Where do e-bikes come in?

While e-mobility held a core place in this year’s COP26, the topic of bicycle travel was missing from the discussion. This even gave rise to protests from cyclists outside the conference.

We agree with the protestors - cycling has got to be part of the global conversation on green travel. This is particularly true for e-bikes as they broaden the market beyond those who would use a regular pushbike to get around in their daily lives. For some people, cycling a pushbike simply isn’t practical - you would turn up for meetings all sweaty, maybe your commute is too long, you have a lot to carry, etc. E-bikes bridge that gap, allowing for sweat-free, long-distance travel on two wheels.

The reality is, e-bikes offer a greener, healthier method of daily transport than other electric vehicles do.

Even in terms of carbon footprint. No electric vehicle is truly carbon-neutral - the raw materials for their batteries have to be mined, they have to be manufactured and assembled, the electricity they run on may not be sustainable, etc - but think about the resources it would take to build an e-car when compared to an e-bike.

Then there is the wide range of benefits that e-bikes bring to cyclists' mental and physical health, to our roads and to our cities.

Fitness Boost

One fairly obvious benefit of cycling an e-bike rather than sitting in a car is the exercise you get. There is a lot of evidence out there pointing to the fact that riding an e-bike does contribute to your overall fitness, particularly if the bike is pedal assist so you can control how much energy you input into the bike’s overall momentum.

If you invest in an e-bike as a replacement for your car, you are also investing in a lot of hours spent cycling rather than driving. This means you are getting out more regularly and using your body.

But it’s not just about the quantity - research shows that elevating your heart rate even just a little bit will allow you to burn calories. We’ve written plenty of detail in this blog about why you should use an e-bike - check it out!

Great for Your Mental Health

Cycling as a form of exercise is also great for your mental health, and using an e-bike is no exception. This form of exercise lowers your brain’s cortisol levels and releases endorphins - your body’s natural painkiller - which in turn can lower your stress and anxiety. The reduction in cortisol also helps with more stable sleep patterns, which has a profound impact on your mood.

Less Congestion

Imagine how free-flowing our roads would be if the world invested in e-bikes rather than other electric vehicles!

Forbes delved into this via a 2019 academic report which argued that in order to address climate change and improve peoples’ quality of life, “active travel modes” must be prioritised over cars.

Because each person would take up less space on the road, congestion and traffic jams could easily be a thing of the past. Your morning commute would be that much less stressful and busy, you could get the kids to school without having to rush, finding a parking spot would be easy.

Lots of Fun!

We think this is the most important point: cycling an e-bike is simply a lot of fun! Life is short, so the more time you can spend enjoying yourself the better, and fitting cycling into your day in place of driving is a super convenient way of doing so.

For More About COP26

For more about COP26, check out their website or go straight to their list of outcomes. Plenty happened at the conference well beyond the realms of transport, so it's definitely worth having a look!

Finally, if you have questions for us, feel free to email us at hello@modmo.io or follow our Facebook and Instagram pages.