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Around the World in 80 'Eco' Days
07/ 12/ 2010

Around the World in 80 'Eco' DaysCancún (Mexico), 7 December 2010 - After covering more than 25,000 kilometres across four continents, participants in the Zero Emissions Race received a warm welcome in Cancún, Mexico at the UN Climate Change Conference, having powered their way from Geneva in less than 80 days using renewable energy.

UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner greeted environmentalist and adventurer Louis Palmer, the organizer of the marathon journey, saying this proved that green technologies to promote and catalyse low carbon transport, are available and reliable.

After their pit stop in Cancun, the teams from Australia, Germany and Switzerland will take to the road once more, with the electric vehicles aiming to arrive at the finishing line in Geneva by 22 January 2011.

"We have been following the Zero Emissions Race with interest and excitement since its inception. I am delighted to see that the same innovation and spirit which inspired the dreams of adventurers over 130 years ago, are still very much evidence as we cross another threshold, this time towards a resource-efficient Green Economy frontier,"said Mr Steiner.

The transport sector is responsible for approximately one quarter of all energy-related CO2 emissions, a figure set to rise to one third by 2050. Within that sector, it is estimated that in 40 years, the number of vehicles in the world will have tripled, with over 80 per cent of that growth occurring in developing countries.

Mr. Steiner added: "There is an urgent need to find a way to reconcile legitimate aspirations for mobility and an ambitious reduction in CO2 from cars. The technology underpinning electric cars, amongst others, needs to be harnessed, and markets and industries incentivized to support production and use of this kind of clean energy."

"With an unprecedented growth in the use of vehicles over the next few decades, governments in both developed and developing countries need to act to stem the expected exponential rise in emissions and find alternative transport methods," he said.

Reducing CO2 emissions from transport not only helps to combat climate change, but reduces the health hazards associated with vehicle emissions. The majority of developing and transitional countries used leaded gasoline in 2002. However, today only 6 countries are still using small amounts of leaded gasoline - the harmful effects of which are well documented in both children and adults.

UNEP's Clean Vehicles Partnership, with its Clearing-House based in Nairobi has on-going or planned activities in all the remaining six countries moving towards complete elimination - Myanmar, North Korea, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

UNEP is also working with road safety, environmental protection and sustainable mobility campaigners, the FIA Foundation, the International Energy Agency and the International Transport Forum, to form the Global Fuel Economy Initiative - the first global project to offer developing countries access to practical technology and policy expertise to lower greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.

This case study is showcased in UNEP's "30 Ways in 30 Days" initiative - a compilation of success stories showing that across the world, in myriad ways, from community-based programmes to entrepreneurial endeavors, solutions are available to help confront the challenges of climate change and to help countries, communities and businesses move towards low-emission, climate-resilient growth.

Note to Editors

UNEP's 30 Ways in 30 Days Initiative is at http://www.unep.org/unite/30ways/

For more information please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, on Tel: +254 733 632755, +41 79 596 5737, E-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Or Joanna Benn, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: +254 719 867 903 or +44 7896 150396, E-mail: Joanna.benn@unep.org

Further Resources
Zero Emissions Race
30 Ways in 30 Days
Zero Emissions Race blog
UN Climate Change Conference Cancun