What does COP26 mean for fleet management?

Our Chief Operating Officer Nick Salkeld reflects on the outcomes of the COP26 summit and discusses how MHC Mobility is supporting customers on their journey to a carbon-free future.

After months of anticipation and sky-high expectations, the COP26 summit ended with most commentators agreeing it’s too early to say whether it was a success, and if so – to what degree. One thing became clear though. Despite the last minute compromise on coal (which saw the wording of the pledge changed from ‘phasing out’ to ‘phasing down’), there is now a strong agreement that our world cannot be powered by fossil fuels for much longer.

During COP26 Transport Day, hundreds of countries, local authorities and companies signed a pledge around stopping the production of vehicles with internal combustion engines in ‘leading markets’ by 2035 and globally by 2040. The agreement was signed by 24 countries, including Austria, Poland and the Netherlands, and a number of major car manufacturers including Ford, General Motors and Daimler. However, four of the world’s largest carmakers, Volkswagen, Toyota, the Renault Nissan alliance and Hyundai-Kia did not sign. Notably, China, the United States and Germany also failed to make a commitment.

The absence of key signatories has been a cause of concern. More broadly, as with so many COP26 pledges, the key point is that they are just pledges – and we know that a lot needs to happen in between to make them a reality.

The 2040 target makes for a good headline, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of what’s behind the numbers. Targets, by their nature, can be arbitrary and, at times, unrealistic. They should be achievable in relation to local government policies, restrictions and incentives, and should take into account local market conditions. Committing to something 20 years down the line is not enough. What’s needed is real, tangible action that makes working towards decarbonisation a reality today, not a problem for tomorrow.

Action is exactly what MHC Mobility wants to focus on across Europe. We know that the next decade will be a challenging one for our customers as they embark on their own road to decarbonisation. We know that this journey is long and paved with complexity and we want to work with them as partners, helping customers make sense of regulatory landscapes and the changes that they will need to make.

This can cover anything from providing customers with better data on their carbon footprint and advice on how to make their mobility needs more environmentally focused, to supporting their switch to electric vehicles. For instance, MHC Mobility Poland is currently participating in the government-backed ‘Mój Elektryk’ programme, which provides leasing companies with subsidies aimed at accelerating the growth of electromobility.

Electrification is only part of the equation, as businesses adapt to the changing travel needs of their employees. This is why MHC Mobility Netherlands is rolling out a mobility card, an innovative solution which offers customers alternatives to vehicle transportation – with flexibility at its core.

As COP delegates left Glasgow, the real work has begun and governments around the world will now grapple with the implementation of the summit’s pledges. At MHC Mobility, we are determined to support our customers on this journey, offering practical advice on how to make a carbon-free future a reality for their businesses.