“Nature isn’t waiting while we negotiate, ” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — and as if to prove him right, a bevy of electric vehicles recently descended upon the Cancun Climate Change Conference! They’re all part of the epic Zero Emissions Race, which challenges four green vehicles to circumnavigate the globe on sets of two and three wheels. Cancun is just one stop along a journey that took the different teams through Kiev, Shanghai, Austin and San Francisco. Read on to hear all about bumpy roads, police escorts, and sexy electric motorcycles!

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The racing vehicles include the Zerotracer, of Switzerland, which claims to be fueled by design, PowerPlaza of South Korea, a cute little passenger vehicle, Team Trev, a three-wheeled prototype developed at the University of South Australia, and Vetrix of Germany, a hot zero-emissions motorcycle. It’s not a race in the literal sense — there’s no big finish line. But the vehicles are judged on performance, power, perseverance and design along the way. So far, three of the original four vehicles have made it to all the scheduled points and events on time. Besides being all-electric, the Zero Emissions Race is also offsetting its inevitable carbon impact. After all, the vehicles have to cross the oceans by ship, and all those police escorts aren’t electric themselves.

While the conference in Cancun was one stop among many, it was by no means insignificant — the race begins and ends in Geneva, where a United Nations Office (and the original home of the League of Nations) is located. The hope, as so often goes with epic green tours, is to spread the word about sustainable (and awesome) means of travel. From Mexico, the teams will ship themselves across the Atlantic to Europe, where they will cross the continent back to Geneva. Hopefully their stops to charge along the way provide a great excuse for a little siesta!

The event’s organizer, Louis Palmer, was the first person to travel the globe in a solar-powered vehicle — he seems to have developed a habit for green and global circumnavigation. Palmer’s “Solar Taxi” is even featured on the homepage of the United Nations Environment Program, so it seems that even bureaucrats think sustainability is sexy.

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