Originally published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In the global conversation around decarbonizing transport, the spotlight on electric vehicles has never shone brighter. The EV revolution is underway, with consumers embracing them in record numbers and manufacturing ramping up around the world.
But even if all cars were shifted to electric to limit climate impact, the structural problems of car-centric infrastructure would persist: deaths and injuries from road crashes; unequal access to jobs, markets, education, and health services; and poor system resilience.
Next Generation of Transport
In many ways, developing countries are well-positioned to create the next generation of transport systems. Walking, public transport and cycling are already ingrained into the cultural fabric of many fast-growing, developing-world cities. The question is how to ensure these habits persist, even if private cars become affordable and feasible.
WRI is working with partners in more than 20 cities around the world to provide technical assistance and other aid to introduce electric buses.
The World Bank is working on a pipeline of bus rapid transit systems (BRTs) to get private cars off the road, reduce emissions and connect large numbers of people with opportunities safely and efficiently.Similar projects are being constructed in cities like Dar es Salaam, Abidjan, São Paulo and Karachi.
Active transport infrastructure has relatively low capital requirements, and every $1 million spent can potentially create 15 to 28 jobs compared to just eight for new roads.
This is why WRI and the World Bank are working with cities like Addis Ababa, Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Delhi and Lima to retrofit thousands of kilometers of roads to be safer for cyclists.
In places as diverse as Ouagadougou and Ho Chi Minh City, two-wheeled vehicles dominate urban mobility. There is significant opportunity to improve their safety, reduce their climate impact, and bring costs down through electrification. One study shows that for consumers in Kenya, an electric two-wheeler costs less long-term than a gas-powered option. People seem to be catching on: there are around 900 million two- and three-wheelers on the road today compared to just half a million in 2013.
If these efforts expand, today’s developing countries could become models for sustainable transport infrastructure, showing how to provide more opportunity to more people without harming the health of people and planet.
Value of Opportunity
The past two years have underscored that transport systems are critical to growth and recovery. $3.35 trillion by 2050.These changes can provide long-term dividends: in six of the world’s major emerging economies, investing in a shift to public transport would require around $173 billion but yield savings in energy and materials worth
For developing countries, the importance of innovative thinking and new solutions in transport cannot be overstated.
At Transforming Transportation 2022, an all-virtual conference on February 16 and 17, the World Bank and World Resources Institute will convene global leaders in the transport sector to explore a variety of solutions and what a comprehensive approach to sustainable mobility looks like.