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Drive Electric and The Audacious Project announce historic $500 million milestone Live from the TED Countdown Summit

Powered by new philanthropic commitments, a global coalition will catalyze emissions-free transportation across the world decades faster

Edinburgh, Scotland — October 12, 2021 — Today from the TED Countdown Summit stage Chris Anderson, Head of TED, and Dr. Monica Araya, notable electrification advocate and respected global adviser on mobility, climate, and energy, announced that the Drive Electric Campaign has raised an additional $300 million in funding to be distributed over 5 years. With the additional funding catalyzed, Drive Electric surpasses the half-way point in the campaign’s goal of raising $1 billion to support the crucial 5-year window to accelerate the transition to electric for all vehicles and set the world on the path to 100% zero-emission road transportation for the benefit of the climate, health, and the economy. 

Working globally and with an additional focus on China, India, Europe, and the U.S., four key markets that comprise the majority of global vehicle demand, the Drive Electric network of partners will build off their track record of achievements to support policy changes and drive market acceleration by engaging governments and companies representing more than 50% of global transport energy demand by 2026. Speeding this shift away from fossil fuels will avert over 160 billion tons of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions, delivering a safer climate.

The work is led by a global coalition of experts including  from the US (Energy Foundation), Europe (European Climate Foundation), India (Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation), and China (Energy Foundation China) and is convened by ClimateWorks Foundation (covering global initiatives and serving as secretariat). This leadership helps support an ambitious collaboration between more than 70 NGO leaders, researchers, and advocates. Dr. Araya is calling on philanthropists, governments, and other funders to join the momentum to reach the final goal that will produce trillions of dollars in social benefit by moving beyond the polluting tailpipe to clean air and climate safety.

Funding to scale this work began through an existing set of experienced climate funders and has recently expanded thanks to a partnership between the Climate Leadership Initiative and The Audacious Project, a collaborative funding initiative that is housed at TED. Philanthropists who make this work possible include: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons (Sea Change Foundation); the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; Quadrature Climate Foundation; Oak Foundation; Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam; Gary, Laura, Josh, and Eliana Lauder; Rick and Nancy Moskovitz (Sea Grape Foundation); Jeff and Marieke Rothschild; Ev and Sara Williams (Someland Foundation). 

“The Drive Electric campaign represents a new and exciting model for helping speed the transitions we most need for climate.” said Anna Verghese, Executive Director of The Audacious Project. “To reach our climate goals, it will require a highly coordinated, multi-sector collaboration of trusted experts on the ground who know what is required. We are excited to see how these efforts could inspire other industries to reimagine change at scale.”

According to the recently updated ClimateWorks 2021Global Intelligence Funding Trends report less than 2% of philanthropic funds target climate change mitigation, and the entire transportation sector received less than 4% of all tracked foundation funding for climate change mitigation on average from 2015-2020. Drive Electric is one transition that is primed to reach scale and demonstrate the possibilities of radical collaboration on climate change solutions. 

Drive Electric partners are advancing the work we urgently need to ensure global climate stability, and what most excites me is that every achievement has a measurable impact on everyday people,” said Dr. Araya, who sits on the Drive Electric Steering Committee and is a ClimateWorks Distinguished Fellow.”This is about cleaning the air by eliminating the pollution from diesel trucks. This is about making cities quieter and healthier with electric buses, cars, and e-bikes. And this is about accelerating investments and creating jobs for a better, more sustainable economy” 

Global transport accounts for roughly 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions; transportation is the number one source of climate pollution in the United States and Europe, and is fast-growing everywhere else. These emissions are on track to rise to 10 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2050. In addition to the climate toll, road transport directly contributes annually to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, millions of cases of childhood asthma, and has the severest impact on low-income and already marginalized communities. While advances in technology, smart government policies advanced by Drive Electric partners, and increasing private investment have built momentum for broad electric vehicle adoption, the industry faces ongoing barriers and strong opposition. Building on this momentum, the Drive Electric campaign addresses all road transport — 2- and 3-wheelers, cars, trucks and buses globally, and in the critical markets of China, Europe, the United States, and India. 

Drive Electric is the culmination of work by philanthropic partners dating back to 2015; to date, they have coordinated a growing global network of dozens of partners from climate foundations, research institutions and civil society organizations that together have delivered high-impact wins for government policy, business investment and overall progress. 

The coalition has identified and developed a replicable mix of key policies and business leadership that supports the EV market. They include: government policies (e.g., fiscal policies, regulations) to drive supply and demand; investments from the private and public sector in new products and shared infrastructure; and support for diverse coalitions to demand a clean energy future. Drive Electric partners have been instrumental in milestones including bringing the “Dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal to light, strengthening pollutions standards and zero-emission vehicle targets, rallying hundreds of companies to electrify commercial fleets, supporting transformative policies from the recent European Commission climate policies that drive greater investments from vehicle manufacturers, and supporting EV actions in India, China, and the United States. Drive Electric can quickly pilot, transfer, and scale best practices within and across international markets, catalyzing the transition of a multi-trillion dollar industry in a short time.

To learn more about the Drive Electric campaign and how you can join the movement, tune into the TED Countdown livestream on October 30th. 

Learn more about the campaign by watching Dr. Monica Araya and Chris Anderson in conversation here and visit


About TED Countdown 

TED Countdown is a global initiative powered by TED and Future Stewards to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. Countdown combines TED’s signature blend of actionable and research-backed ideas, cutting-edge science, and moments of wonder and inspiration to mobilize millions to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world.

Countdown launched October 2020 via a free live virtual event featuring talks and performances by Pope Francis, Prince William, Christiana Figueres, and Al Gore as well as scientists, activists, artists, schools, and leaders from business and government. One year later—October 2021—The Countdown Summit will bring together hundreds of leaders in Edinburgh, Scotland as TED speakers share a blueprint for a beautiful net-zero future. This plan—along with inspiring stories of local action—will be amplified by hundreds of TEDx Countdown events around the world and through a special global livestream event on October 30.

Follow TED Countdown on Twitter and Instagram.


About the Drive Electric Campaign

Drive Electric is the campaign to end the polluting tailpipe and accelerate the global transition to a clean transportation future, delivering massive benefits to the climate, health, and the economy. The Drive Electric campaign is a global coalition that is accelerating 100% clean, zero emission electric road vehicles of all kinds, from buses and freight trucks to motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, vans, and more. Powered by philanthropy, Drive Electric is the culmination of work dating back to 2015; to date, we have coordinated a growing global network of more than 70 partners from climate foundations, research institutions and civil society organizations that together have delivered high-impact wins for government policy, business investment and overall progress. Follow Drive Electric on Twitter and LinkedIn.


About ClimateWorks Foundation

ClimateWorks Foundation is a global platform for philanthropy to innovate and accelerate climate solutions that scale. We deliver global programs and services that equip philanthropy with the knowledge, networks, and solutions to drive climate progress. Since 2008, ClimateWorks has granted over $1.3 billion to more than 600 grantees in over 40 countries.


About The Audacious Project

Launched in April 2018, The Audacious Project is a collaborative funding initiative that’s catalyzing social impact on a grand scale. Housed at TED, the nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading, and with support from leading social impact advisor The Bridgespan Group, The Audacious Project convenes funders and social entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges. The funding collective is made up of respected organizations and individuals in philanthropy, including the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, The Valhalla Charitable Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies and more. Each year The Audacious Project supports a new cohort. Drive Electric is the first grantee to be announced in the 2021 cohort.

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Published October 12, 2021

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