Experts answer: Can electric mobility help countries achieve sustainable development?

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The collage was created by SuM4All comms team/Photos from contributors
The collage was created by SuM4All comms team/Photos from contributors

Next month, the international transport community will converge at a virtual event to mark the launch of the e-mobility report, “Sustainable Electric Mobility: Building Blocks and Policy Recommendations.” The report, which provides policy framework and actionable guidance to support sustainable electric mobility, was commissioned by Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) and authored by a group of experts and Member organizations led by the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

The event is tagged “E-Mobility in action: What will it take?” and is open to public policymakers, transport and energy experts, researchers, and the wider public and private sector stakeholders interested in the accelerated development of sustainable electric mobility. 

“It will unpack what the e-mobility model means for the ambition for sustainable mobility and determine the conditions under, which this path is suitable or not for countries. It complements two policy papers that will be released shortly by the SuM4all partnership,” said Nancy Vandycke, manager, Sustainable Mobility for All.

“It is part of a comprehensive effort undertaken by the Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) initiative to elaborate an actionable Global Roadmap of Action toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA),” she said.

But can electric mobility really transform the future of transport? Well, a panel of carefully selected experts will deep-dive on the policy requirements for an integrated and sustainable introduction of electric mobility and conditions under, which this model will reduce carbon emissions globally.

It can be recalled that earlier this year, SuM4All initiative, a 55-member global initiative working to support the transition toward a greener, safer, more efficient, and equitable transport,  launched the GRA in action series, which are actionable policy guidance developed from the Global Roadmap of Action Toward Sustainable Mobility (GRA) on cutting-edge topics related to transport decarbonization. The first study under the series, “Sustainable Mobility: Policy Making for Data Sharing,” was released last month.

Ahead of the GRA Series on E-mobility event, some SuM4All partners were asked their views on how electric mobility transform transport and help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and why it matters to the work they do.

The experts answer:

"Electric mobility is part of the solution, but certainly not enough to achieve sustainable development or decarbonization. It is a major enabler to shift away from the dependency on fossil fuels. Electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles promise to revolutionize transport systems. However, a traffic jam of electric vehicles is still a traffic jam. An accident caused by one is still one too many. If its operation and the manufacture of its batteries are not powered by renewable energy sources, then we are not reaping all the benefits of decarbonization and pollution prevention. With or without electric mobility we still need good urban planning and the rest of the avoid-shift-improve solutions that are at the core of sustainable and livable cities. Understanding this, together with the synergies and interactions between electric mobility and energy systems is critical. This has been at the center of my work both with Energy and Transport teams."
Senior Energy Specialist, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), World Bank
Ivan Jaques Goldenberg
Senior Energy Specialist, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), World Bank
"The electrification of motorised transport is important to move away from the heavy dependence on fossil fuels. It has to be implemented in the bigger context of actions, avoiding unnecessary motorised travel, shifting to more environmentally sound mobility modes and improving the overall efficiency of the transport system."
SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport
Nikola Medimorec
SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport
“Electric mobility will reduce the depletion of hydrocarbons from the earth, which will reduce environmental degradation…Developing countries will reduce their valuable forex spend on oil, diverting it to more important needs like healthcare, housing, food, and education. Two-wheeler EVs have the potential to reduce car dependency, due to relative affordability. They will improve access to transport, and due to ease of manufacture, will improve the manufacturing base of developing countries."
Director, Sustainable Transport Africa
Nyaga Kebuchi
Director, Sustainable Transport Africa
“Rail, as the leading e-mobility mode recognizes the importance of phasing out the internal combustion engine. Of course, changing energy sources alone will certainly not transform mobility. To achieve sustainable development and decarbonization a paradigm shift is required: to favor active and low-carbon modes of travel. A significant shift to rail for both passengers and freight, to other public transport, and to active travel such as bicycles and walking is essential in reversing the trend of growing emissions from transport. With this shift we will also achieve a reduction in congestion, in accidents and injuries, improvement in local air quality and saving of space in our crowded cities...”
Francois Davenne, International Union of Railways, UIC
Francois Davenne
International Union of Railways, UIC
“The transition away from fossil fuel powered vehicles of all types is central to achieving zero carbon mobility and avoiding climate catastrophe. Electrification with renewable energy sources is a key part of this transition, and FIA Foundation is supporting around 100 countries across the world navigate these challenges through the work of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI). Cleaner vehicles whilst essential are not however sufficient to solve our sustainable mobility challenges. We must avoid some journeys altogether, and move others to truly zero carbon modes also.”
Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation
Sheila Watson
FIA Foundation
“Mobility is a central factor in the effort to fight climate change: it contributes to almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. And its share is still rising. Obliged to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), KfW strives for decarbonising the transport sector. E-mobility is an important corner stone in this respect and needs to go along with the greening of the energy sector. KfW provides the necessary financing for introducing e-mobility solutions in its partner countries and in Germany. A prominent example for our engagement is the financing of 500 E-Buses in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The promotion of e-mobility within the KfW-portfolio is set to rise further within the coming years.”
Christian Lütke Wöstmann, Head of Sector Policy Division Infrastructure, Water and Natural Resources, KfW Development Bank
Christian Lütke Wöstmann
Head of Sector Policy Division Infrastructure, Water and Natural Resources, KfW Development Bank
“Replacing internal combustion engines in cars by electric equivalents has some positive effects on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, but not on other important issues such as congestion and road danger. However, electromobility is so much more. Sales of electrically assisted bicycles outnumbers electric car sales by an order of magnitude, gently nudging modal shift to active transport modes. We see cities becoming more livable and gradually reallocating their public space to further stimulate the desired shift to more sustainable modes as walking, cycling and public transport. As such, electric mobility is a crucial contributor to transforming mobility and achieving sustainable development objectives and decarbonization goals.”
Geert van Waeg, President, International Federation of Pedestrians
Geert van Waeg
Geert van Waeg, President, International Federation of Pedestrians
“There are times when we have the opportunity to make vast changes within a very short span of time. Although the rate of change will be uneven, the transition to electrified mobility, particularly in cities, provides us with the opportunity to vastly change transportation habits that we know have outlived their utility.”

John G. Graham, Principal Industry Specialist, Global Transport Group, Infrastructure Department, IFC
John G. Graham
Principal Industry Specialist, Global Transport Group, Infrastructure Department, IFC

Click here to register for the event on 10 May 2021 at 10.30AM EST.

Don’t miss out! Join the conversation on Twitter: #SuM4All and LinkedIn.


Jennifer Okaima Piette

Communications consultant, World Bank

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