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Launch of the ZERO Race Upon the Swiss initiative of Louis Palmer

Geneva, Avenue de la Paix, 16 August 2010

Remarks by Mr. Ján Kubiš
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to address you here at the start of the first race for electric vehicles powered by renewable energy. The objective of this so-called ‘ZERO Race’ is to make a tour around the world in 80 days – à la Phileas Fogg, but this time, with emission-free vehicles. With this in mind, the aim is to raise awareness across the world on alternative low-carbon economy and to foster the use of zero-emission vehicles for people’s mobility, at least as far as emissions directly from transport are concerned.

Today, the entire international community shares the same concern of climate change. The risks of climate change cause global problems, therefore requiring a global solution. There is a clear consensus amongst scientists, policy-makers, experts and business leaders that concerted action is needed to address climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, especially those of CO2. Climate change is a challenging area in which the United Nations is deeply involved. The Kyoto Protocol was set up by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the UNFCCC) and the Secretary-General has put climate change firmly at the top of the United Nations agenda.

The race will start today here in Geneva, reach Cancun in Mexico early in December in time for the COP16, and then the five participating “clean” vehicles will drive back to Geneva.

UN organizations such as the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Environment Programme (UNEP) are well-equipped to be a driving force addressing the challenge of climate change. The UNECE has a strong mandate and recognized expertise in areas that are crucial for climate change adaptation and mitigation, namely through environmental conventions, global regulations on the construction of safe and environmentally friendly vehicles, policies geared towards sustainable transport, and its work in the field of energy efficiency, housing, forestry and timber.

The UNECE’s mandate is to promote and facilitate economic development in the region, and in this respect, transport is one of the key sectors. It provides mobility and access to basic services such as healthcare and education. It is also vital to the proper functioning of economies, to the production and distribution of goods, as well as to trade and tourism. Transport is indispensable for opening up and integrating countries and regions and it contributes considerably to the wellbeing of people. The transport sector, including the vehicle manufacturing industry and its suppliers, accounts for a large share of gross domestic product (GDP) in many countries.

The mission of the ZERO-Race is to educate, raise public awareness, inspire and to help Governments and people to take action towards a sustainable future. This is in line with our mandate, and therefore we fully support the objective of this excellent initiative and on behalf of the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, I wish great success to you all in this race.

Further information is available at: zero-race.com/en/


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013