VI. Electrification drives low carbon land transport and puts the most sustainable modes first.

Electrifying transport with renewable sources is essential to decarbonise transport. With the right priorities, benefits go well beyond climate protection: electrification reduces local air and noise pollution; it opens up opportunities to replace and prevent the use of cars and vans with electric bikes and cargo-bikes; it can be powered with locally produced renewable electricity reducing energy dependency; it opens up new opportunities for local production and assembly for adapted vehicles. 

As the electrification of different modes and for different uses varies in complexity and costs for society, segments with the highest CO2 reduction potential at the lowest cost are to be put first. These include electric bikes, 2- and 3-wheelers, commercial, corporate, and public fleets of high-mileage vehicles, urban delivery fleets, buses for public transport, as well as rail.

Heavy duty vehicles for specific applications are already available and their use must be made mandatory. The electrification of long-distance road freight that cannot be shifted to more sustainable modes must be incentivised and regulated with more ambition to set this segment onto a low-carbon pathway now.

Facts and figures

EV fleet growth: By 2020, the global stock of electric passenger cars (battery and plug-in electric hybrids) surpassed 10 million vehicles (up from more than 7.2 million in 2019). There were more than 600,000 electric buses in operation, 290 million electric two- and three-wheelers (excluding electric-assisted bicycles) and 170,000 electric freight vehicles (three-wheelers, light trucks and company cars). (Read more: SLOCAT Transport and Climate Change Global Status Report – 2nd Edition)

Subsidies of electric bicycles compared to electric cars: Electric bicycle subsidies are seen as more than twice as effective as electric car subsidies. It costs less than half the cost of electric car subsidies of saving a kilogram of CO2 via schemes to boost e-bikes. (Read more: Bikebiz)

Total cost of ownership: Electric passenger cars and buses are already more competitive than diesel or gasoline vehicles in many markets if accounted for the total cost of ownership (combination of purchase and maintenance). (Read more: SLOCAT Transport and Climate Change Global Status Report – 2nd Edition)

National and subnational electric mobility targets: Over 80 countries and 100 subnational entities set e-mobility targets. Most importantly, around 27 entities announced to phase out the sales of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. (Read more; SLOCAT’s e-mobility trends and targets overview)

Catalytic measures

  • Finance transport investments based on their contribution to low-carbon and sustainable mobility
  • Invest in affordable and decarbonised public transport and level of service
  • Allocate more safe space to walking and biking
  • Regulate urban access to city centres (e.g. zero emission zones in city centers, access based on emissions)
  • Incentivize vehicle and ride sharing
  • Combine paratransit professionalization and fleet renewal for electrification
  • Define trajectories to phase out ICE vehicles sales, production, and use
  • Price CO2 and integrate the transport sector to emission trading schemes
  • Phase out fossil fuel subsidies (e.g. diesel privileges)
  • Develop shared urban logistics platforms
  • Apply mandates for urban cargo-bike delivery
  • Enable and mandate off-peak-hour delivery
  • Strengthen and facilitate legal and operational conditions for intermodal freight
  • Regulate export and import of second-hand ICE and EV vehicles through emission, safety, and recycling standards
  • Subsidize electric vehicles based on their contribution to access, safety, and use of space
  • Legal mandates for new Zero Emission Vehicles
  • Develop business models for fleet electrification
  • Develop business models for charging infrastructure operation, including operators of the energy sector and prosumers
  • Make electric charging equipment mandatory in residential and commercial developments
  • Use pricing of electric charging to support grid flexibility
  • Tax vehicles based on emissions, weight, footprint, and energy efficiency
  • Promote the integration of electric charging and distributed and off-grid renewable energy production
  • Regulate extraction and recycling of raw materials for electric mobility