Andy Eastlake reflects on 12 years leading transport’s decarbonisation transition: Sustainable transport; our next twenty year challenge (but after a Christmas rest!)

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Fri 22 December 2023 View all news

Forty years ago I joined an automotive industry I was passionate about, but one where excitement and enthusiasm invariably came at the expense of efficiency and the environment. In those days of carburettors and superchargers, getting more power meant adding more fuel and air and hoping for a bigger bang…but it was also a time of huge change in the sector, and an opportunity to play my part.

In particular, the air pollution impacts of transport were already in sharp focus and so, driven by legislation, the automotive and fuels industries had to work hand-in-hand to introduce catalysts and unleaded fuels to a reluctant market.

If the first twenty years were about air quality and clean transport, the next twenty were certainly about climate change and zero emissions transport.

The excitement of bringing engineering rigour into this nexus of products, policy and people, to drive real collaborative progress for all aspects, has been my personal passion and it was this which drove me to become a founding member of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP). One of my first tasks was defining what a low carbon bus actually was and how to test and certify those products. 

In the Partnership’s early days we drove the industry and regulations while always looking to embrace the widest boundary definitions. (The bus sector still remains the only one certifying on a well-to-wheel basis).  

With carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases (GHGs) the new focus for transport, the need for even closer and more structured partnership across a wider range of industries and public bodies was clear. As a very active participant for the first ten years, I was delighted to take over leadership of the Partnership in 2012 and to bring even more key players (like the EV infrastructure community) to work together towards our common goal of removing GHG emissions from transport operations wherever they occur.

In 2024, with ZEV mandates now in place and phase-out dates slated for all emitting road vehicles, some might say our job is done.  But not me; net zero and sustainable transport must be our watchwords for the next twenty years.  And just like twenty years ago when delivering a ’clean vehicle‘ was only the first step, today delivering a zero emission vehicle is only (albeit a major) part of achieving sustainable mobility.

Delivering a fully zero emission, sustainable transport system is still a major challenge and one which will need a new and even more diverse partnership and approach.

So I was delighted that the Zemo Board supported Claire Haigh to take over leadership of the Partnership from January and to embrace this next phase of Zemo Partnership’s journey.

With Claire and the Partnership’s support I aim to continue to play a role, bringing a technical and engineering perspective (and, even, pedantry!) to the discussions. The challenges facing our sector now, need a new policy and member-driven approach to deliver the promise of the technologies we know are now available.

Wishing you all a restful break, particularly my secretariat team and the Board at Zemo who have had a turbulent year.

When we return in January we embark on a new twenty year journey to sustainable transport; I’m sure it will be as exciting as the last forty!

Andy Eastlake will step down as CEO of Zemo Partnership on January 1st (see full story here).

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