…  Bhutan aims towards zero-emission mobility by 2050

Staff Reporter  

The UNDP office in Thimphu handed over 16 of the 19 electric vehicles funded through a USD 1.1 million project supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP.

The project is a partnership between the Government of Japan and UNDP’s next phase of the Climate Promise: From Pledge to Impact. It aims to help countries turn their NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) carbon reduction targets into concrete results, according to a press release.

UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative Mohammad Younus formally handed over the EVs to Cabinet Secretary Kesang Deki today.

The EVs will offset 5,585kg of carbon dioxide yearly. This is 83,775kgs over a period of 15 years, which is the estimated life of the EVs, the UNDP press release stated.

The Cabinet Secretary conveyed appreciation to the Government and people of Japan and UNDP for the support, notwithstanding the difficult times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The support will go a long way in building public confidence in EVs and reducing Bhutan’s dependence on fossil fuel,” she said.

The project will also set up eight quick charging stations at strategic locations. It will also train EV technicians and work towards creating an enabling policy for EV promotion and increase awareness of EVs to boost consumer confidence.

The project builds on the “Bhutan Sustainable Low-Emission Urban Transport System” project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by UNDP, which helped 291 taxi drivers switch to EVs.

The UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative commended Bhutan’s bold step towards greening its transport sector. He thanked the Governments of Bhutan and Japan for the partnership.

“Our EV partnerships seek to demonstrate the viability of a low-emission transport system and pave the way for wider and faster adoption of EVs to reduce dependence on fossil fuel. It’s imperative that we keep the EV momentum alive,” said Younus.

Bhutan’s Second NDC highlights the importance of reducing emissions from the transport sector, which remains one of the major carbon emitters in the country.

Almost 99.9 percent of motor vehicles in Bhutan are powered by diesel or petrol. Vehicle emissions accounted for 60 percent of the total emissions from the energy sector, amounting to approximately 398,829 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2019.

Projections indicate emissions from the transport sector could hit 1.25 million metric tons by 2050 under the business-as-usual scenario.

The most significant rise in GHG emissions is expected from light vehicles (3.8 times), followed by medium vehicles (3.6 times) and heavy vehicles (3 times). Currently, light vehicles (including taxis) and two-wheelers combined account for more than 81 percent of the total registered vehicles, while heavy and medium public transport buses together constitute less than a percent.