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Tuesday , 28 June 2022

Urban Electric Mobility Initiative of UN-Habitat

How can reduction in Global Transportation emissions, as well as local pollutants, and improved road safety be achieved while also ensuring better mobility and economic growth in cities around the world? Dr Kulwant Singh, Advisor, Urban Basic Services, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), explains.

Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI) aims at contributing significantly to the overall goal of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by decreasing urban CO2 emissions globally. The specific objective of this initiative is to achieve widespread adoption of electric vehicles in cities, reaching a target where urban travel in electric vehicles makes up 30% of total urban vehicle travel by 2030. This e-mobility target can be achieved by increased electrification of private vehicles (light-duty vehicles and 2-wheelers) accompanied by a significant increase in the uptake of electric mobility in public transportation systems (e.g., Light Rail Transit, Metro and Bus Rapid Transit Systems) combined with a reduction in personally operated internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in cities around the world. This objective is also aligned with a vision where innovative technologies (such as car-sharing systems, bus rapid transit and others) provide avenues for less carbon intensive travel growth; i.e. where economic growth and prosperity are decoupled from GHG emissions.

Rationale for Electric Mobility

Reduction of GHG Emissions: The IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives and other recent publications have suggested that if transport is to contribute to a CO2 target consistent with a -2°C stabilization pathway, technologies such as plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery electric vehicle (BEV) and fuel cell vehicles (FCEV) will have to increase their market shares substantially over the coming years. These three technologies combined, would have to reach a market share in annual sales of about 30% of global light-duty vehicles (LDV) sales in a balanced Avoid/Shift/Improve 2 Degrees scenario by 2030 and similar developments are needed for heavy duty vehicles. An important aspect that is also highlighted in the figure below is the relationship between electro mobility – which shows ranges from 50% to 100% of new LDVs in 2050, and 25% to 50% in 2030 – and other, primarily urban mobility measures, such as modal shift strategies and compact urban form that avoids or reduces the need for travel. This indicates that technology uptake needs to be complemented by the Avoid strategies such as compact urban planning and Shift measures that encourage the use of public transport, walking and cycling.

Decoupling Growth and Emissions from Transport: The Electric mobility industry involves an array of industry sectors. These include the automotive and component industries, battery manufacturers, energy producers and distributors, and transport service operators. Innovations in technology such as more efficient batteries, automotive and component design can give a new impetus to economic development and contribute to the de-carbonising of development. Considering the whole value chain including energy generation and distribution, fuelling, battery and components, and Electric Vehicles sales, a World Bank study indicates a total value chain greater than $250 billion worldwide.

Reducing localised Air Pollution and other negative impacts: According to the World Health Organisation (2014), outdoor or ambient air pollution causes 3.7 million premature deaths across the world. Most of these deaths (88%) are in developing countries. Pollution from small particulate matter of 10 microns or less in diameter (SMP), of which transport is a significant source, is the cause of this mortality. Increasing uptake of electric mobility, together with Avoid and shift measures can reduce local air pollution and the associated disease burden.

The rationale outlined above provides a basis for developing the post-2015/post MDG development agenda. Presently, a Result Framework for Sustainable Transport is being developed to promote the integration of sustainable transport in the post 2015 development agenda. The draft results framework identifies targets to be achieved in respect of urban and rural access, road safety, Green House Gas Emissions and Air pollution and human health. All of these proposed targets are set to be achieved by 2030. For example:

  • Urban Access Target: Secure Universal access by sustainable transport for urban populations by 2030;
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Target: Total world transport-related GHG emissions peak no later than 2020, then begin to decline at a 2% per year rate, with 2030 transport related emissions no higher than 2010 emissions.

Targets for air quality and road safety can also be developed and linked to this initiative. This should include targets for reductions in the average pollutant and carbon intensity of electricity generation to ensure that electric vehicles are increasingly clean over time.

UEMI Actions

The UEMI calls for complementary actions by “supply side” and “demand side” actors. The supply side actors comprise Electric Vehicle, battery and automotive component manufacturers. Energy suppliers and distributors are also important supply side actors since the widespread transition to Electric Mobility should be accompanied also by the transition to cleaner energy sources. “Demand side” actors comprise city and national governments, people and also businesses. Multilateral Financial Institutions such as the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks are also important demand side players due to the potential investments they can make in EV infrastructure. International organizations including UN-Habitat, other UN agencies, the International Energy Agency and other knowledge and research based organizations will play a facilitating role through knowledge sharing, capacity building and support through UEMI demonstration initiatives. A “CEO Electric Mobility Mandate” formed amongst industry leaders under the aegis of the UN Global compact will enable knowledge sharing to increase the market penetration of EVs within a sustainable development framework.

Implementation and Monitoring UEMI

UEMI is being implemented over the period 2014-2030 in a phased manner. Key Actions immediately after the Summit include:

  • Establish the UEMI platform/forum with a secretariat in UN-Habitat to facilitate knowledge exchange, advocacy and gather more commitments from Governments and Industry; and monitor and report progress against commitments; The secretariat will be responsible for coordinating the overall alliance structure comprising knowledge, investment, industry and city partners;
  • Establish a “seed fund” with a corpus of $50 million to be contributed by Governments and Industry for undertaking innovative Electric Mobility demonstration projects and capacity building;
  • Continue global advocacy on Electric Mobility making E-Mobility a pillar of the new urban agenda during Habitat III.


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