The ALP Forum’s transport sessions on strategies for recovery from the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic and on electric mobility in public transport were held on the 2nd of September 2021.
The first session, moderated by Dr. Sanjini U. Nanayakkara, Staff Scientist, NREL, focused on how the pandemic had changed our travel behaviour and the required long-term recovery strategies.
Ms. Angela Enriquez, Senior Associate, SLOCAT Partnerships, spoke on the transport demand, emissions impacts and policy responses in Asia. She said that globally, the transport sector was the fastest-growing fossil fuel combustion sector in 2010-2019, and the second highest contributor of CO2 emissions globally. The Asian region recorded the highest transport emission growth compared to other regions, with an increase of 41%, and also saw car ownership increase by almost 87% (3 times the global average) in 2015-2019. Four of the five most congested cities in 2019 were also in Asia, including Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune in India.
Explaining the impact on the pandemic, she said that the transport sector’s emissions fell almost 19.4% below 2019 levels (1.5 giga tonnes in 2020), with the greatest reductions happening in international aviation, domestic aviation, international shipping and ground transport (road and railways). Public transport usage dropped by 90% (March-August 2020), while para-transit services were impacted, driverless technology for contactless delivery surged and pedestrian and cycling infrastructure expanded. In the Asian region, shared mobility services were impacted heavily and their usage reduced. Some countries made rapid recoveries, though, such as Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam.
Ms Enriquez emphasised Avoid-Shift-Improve strategy for recovery: Avoiding and reducing the need for motorised travel; shifting to sustainable modes; and improving transport modes. These strategies can account for 40%-60% of the transport emission reductions at lower costs than ‘Improve’ strategies, which require technology integration. She said that political ambitions must increase and
investment of about USD40.5 trillion would be needed for low-carbon transport pathways till 2030.
Mr. Agnivesh Pani, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi, presented on “Advancing NDC Implementation and Strengthening the Long-Term Strategy”, including the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic (such as shifts in consumer behaviour and perceptions on automation), how can this be leveraged to improve last-mile delivery using Autonomous Delivery Robots (ADRs), cargo bikes and crowdshipping.
He said that consumers had started relying more on e-commerce and that this behaviour (about 43%) may continue beyond the pandemic also. As a result, last-mile delivery services are strained to meet this demand (especially in case of grocery deliveries). These deliveries contribute to 40% of the logistics cost, add to congestion, and generate about 158.4 g CO2 per km per order. Thus it is important to manage and reduce emissions from last-mile delivery modes.
He said that potential solutions that are already being used are autonomous delivery robots in North America, crowdshipping in Asia, self-service delivery lockers in Asia and e-cargo bikes in Latin America and the Caribbean countries.
ADRs are an efficient mode for last-mile delivery of light-weight commodities. USA, China and the UK have used delivery robots, though there are many challenges and research is required at the demand as well as supply side.
Crowdshipping is the last-mile delivery of freight packages by using underutilised passenger transport and services. In this method, the product travels through a series of shared modes before being delivered. Since there are no dedicated delivery trips, it significantly reduces the carbon cost of deliveries.
Self-service delivery lockers involve the consumer travelling to a common location to collect their products, a cost-saving, environmental solution that also avoids postal address-related confusion. Cargo bikes can carry up to 100kg and may be used in cities to cut last-mile delivery costs by 45%, such as by Zomato in India.
Ms. Angel Cortez from SLOCAT spoke on case studies from Asia and Latin America on Renewables and Transport regarding recovery from the pandemic impact. Transport holds the highest share (32%) for global energy demand, and renewable energy contributes the lowest share (3%). There is an opportunity to integrate renewable systems into transport through recover from impacts of COVID-19, with benefits including reduction in emissions, along with a positive impact on local socio-economic setup. Solar rickshaws in Delhi, India, are a good example of integrating RE in transport systems. In Romblon, the Philippines, 100 e-scooters have been launched, and they are charged by wind power, reducing the dependence on fuel imports. In Montevideo, Uruguay, 20 e-buses have been launched and 97% of the country’s electricity demand is sourced from renewable sources.
Ms. Derina Man, Senior Managing Consultant, Climate Change and Sustainability, ICF, made a presentation on long-term strategies in the transport sector, which may include alternative fuel vehicles to reduce emissions. There are six key steps of LTS planning process: setting a goal/vision; determining GHG emission baseline; identifying mitigation/adaptation process; determining implementation pathways; implementing selected strategies; and monitoring and evaluating the implementation.
Mr. Mel Francis Eden, consultant, for Asian Development Bank, spoke on the current status of the transport sector in Asian countries, the COVID-19 impact on the sector and proposed strategies. He presented the ADB’s Asian Transport Outlook that has developed about 435 transport policy documents and has 548 transport related goals and targets. The sharable database includes data on mobility patterns and travel restrictions information (from Oxford University); a tool has also been developed to produce customisable charts.
Data shows that three modes of mobility – walking, driving and public transport – had decreased during the pandemic; driving recovered first, followed by walking and public transport to some extent. Mobility patterns of India shows that increased number of COVID-19 cases have always been preceded by increased level of mobility. In Vietnam, walking has recovered at a faster level as compared to driving.
Data also shows that transport sector interacts with COVID-19 in terms of cases and restrictions. It also shows how active mobility has an opportunity to support transport in general while public transport is recovering. Thus investing in active transport would not only help in recovery but also in moving towards green recovery, building back better and decarbonisation.
Mr. Trinnawat Suwanprik, Local Coordinator for Achieving Low Carbon Growth in Cities through Sustainable Urban System Management in Thailand & Chiang Mai, presented on the country response to the pandemic in the transport sector, with a focus on Chang Mai. There are 22 organisations working on transport and have developed an application for urban transit and another for smart payments to combat the spread of infections. About 9500 passengers using public transport in Chiang Mai per month in 2019, falling to about 1000 per month after a lockdown was imposed in 2020 i.e. almost a 90% decrease during the pandemic. The new normal in Chiang Mai includes designated bike lanes, sidewalks and street furniture to integrate micro mobility.
EV-related projects and ongoing initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region
In the second session of the day, moderated by Mr. Nikola Medimorec, Data & Research Analyst, SLOCAT, the discussions focused on EV-related projects and ongoing initiatives in the Asia- Pacific region, local bus initiatives, decarbonizing the transport sector, policies and programs for promoting clean air and the benefits of a transition towards zero emissions.
Mr Medimorec initiated the discussions by speaking on the need for enabling environments for electric mobility in public transport with a focus on developing countries. The first enabling factor is to phase out/ban the use of fossil fuel based vehicles by a target year. According to SLOCAT, 19 countries have targeted to ban fossil fuel-based vehicles by 2050.
There were about 10 million e-cars on the road, and more than 600,000 e-buses operating in over 400 cities, as of 2020. China operates around 95% of world’s e-bus fleet. Mr Medimorec said that the key opportunities for e-mobility in Asia include two and three-wheeler electric vehicles, which are low hanging fruits, collective transport (e-buses, taxis), freight transport (which contribute almost 40% of road transport-related emissions), and all these modes combined with renewable energy.
Mr. Rohan Shailesh Modi, Advisor, TUMIVolt, GIZ, presented the learnings from clean bus initiative under the TUMI project, which is supporting 20 deep-dive cities to establish a mentee city network and aims to set up a 100-citynetwork by the end of 2022. The project is being implemented by C40, GIZ, ICLEI, ITDP, UITP and WRI, with support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Best practices and experiences will be shared through peer learning platforms and other bilateral meetings; a robust coalition of private & public sector partners has been established in the deep-dive cities, and e-bus targets and work plans would be created. Twenty deep-dive cities have been identified, including seven from Asia.
The TUMI 500+ city program involves linking structured regional mentee city networks to a global knowledge hub, setting up a global knowledge platform for peer-to-peer learning and establishing a pool of regional experts for ad-hoc technical and legal support of cities.
Mr. Indradip Mitra, Lead of NDC TIA, GIZ, spoke on decarbonising the transport sector in Asian countries and gave an overview of the NDC Transport Initiative for Asia. With GHG emissions from transport in Asia contributing almost 25% of the global transport related emissions, NDC TIA addresses several issues in the transport sector in China, Vietnam and India. The strategy includes identifying pathways for modelling and calculations for long-term strategies and fostering micro concrete actions related to mobility. A council has also been formed to visualise changes, shift the narrative and engage with leaders.
He said that shifting the gear towards zero-carbon sustainable transport has six major dimensions, of which one is on accelerating electrification with renewable energy. Examples of e-mobility progress include a study of TCO of e-trucks and optimisation of e-bus systems in China; a national e-mobility strategy and economical-technical norms for e-buses being developed in Vietnam; and development of a national digital library on green mobility, supporting Delhi for developing public and private EV charging networks and power market reforms in India. ,
Ms. Glynda Bathan Baternina, Deputy Executive Director, Clean Air Asia, made a presentation on policies and programs in the transport sector that promote clean air in Asian countries. More than 90% of Asian cities do not meet WHO annual air quality guidelines. She mentioned the example of the city of Shenzhen, China, where a control centre tracks the vehicle utilisation rate and energy efficiency of 16000 e-buses and 22000 e-taxis. Previously, diesel buses comprised about 0.5% of the city fleet and contributed about 20% of its transport emissions. Now, it has about 17000 e-buses, the largest in the world, which has reduced bus emissions. The factors that helped the city to switch to EVs were national and local subsidies; leasing arrangement with bus manufacturers to reduce their upfront cost; optimised charging and operations, opening up of charging facilities to private vehicles, and night-time charging; and securing of life-time warranty of batteries from manufacturers. The city met its air quality goals in 2016-17, while bus operators gained increased ridership.
She also mentioned the example of Kolkata, India, where about 1500 diesel buses contributed about 33% of the city’s emissions. With the help of the FAME scheme and policy measures that the state has already implemented, it aims to shift fully to e-buses by 2030. Some of the factors that have aided Kolkata include well-planned location of charging stations and operation schemes (mix of slow and fast chargers). However, the challenges include location of new chargers to accommodate more buses, frequent tripping of chargers and securing renewable energy supply for charging e-buses.
The third case study was of Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, where electric 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler vehicles are used for parcel delivery and small freight delivery. The challenges there include lack of clarity about routes where these electric vehicles are allowed to operate and inadequate availability of charging infrastructure.
Dr. Sanjini U. Nanayakkara, Staff Scientist, NREL, spoke on the Asia Clean Mobility high ambition leadership group and benefits of a transition towards net zero pathways. The leadership group is a new initiative aimed at transitioning to clean mobility and enabling countries to shift to net zero carbon transport systems. There are many drivers for the shift to EVs and each country may have different goals and targets. The most common goals are reduced emissions, better economic growth, and improved air quality and health. Considering the population and congestion in some of the Asian countries, even if we convert every ICE vehicle to electric vehicle, the traffic congestion issues will not be solved. We need to think of better ways to transport people who rely on personal vehicles.
Net zero transport strategies also have additional benefits like new jobs, and reducing mortality and damage caused by climate change along with a reduction in emissions. However, the key challenges here are ambitious regulations, making charging stations cost-effective and easy-to-find, and providing incentives to create increased demand.
The Asia Clean Mobility High Ambition Leadership Group, launched in 2021, aims to enable the Asia- Pacific region’s economies to transition towards net zero emissions transport systems through inclusive solutions and support local economic development. The group will provide advisory and technical support, and subject matter assistance to these countries.
Ms. Sarathanjali Manoharan, Deputy Director (Air Resources Management and National Ozone Unit ), Ministry of Environment, Government of Sri Lanka, presented on her country’s journey towards on low emissions and net zero pathways, with a focus on e-mobility. She spoke on the status of transport sector in Sri Lanka, electric public transport, its drivers, barriers and readiness for e-mobility, present status and key considerations for the strategic plans. The transport sector consumes 69% of the oil and petroleum products and contributes 16% of the GHG emissions. Inefficient public transport leads people to use private vehicles, adding to traffic congestion and accidents.
The drivers for EV adoption in Sri Lanka include a policy portfolio to accelerate transition through incentives, emission standards, development of supporting infrastructure and phasing out of ICE vehicles.
The barriers for EV adoption include information barriers (lack of awareness and range anxiety), economic barriers (high upfront cost, business viability), regulatory (tariff-related issues) and technical barriers (lack of charger standards, grid stability and battery performing issues as most of the vehicles are reconditioned).
Sri Lanka has over 5400 e-cars, 2300 e-bikes and over 40,000 hybrid vehicles; 90% of these vehicles use Li-ion batteries, so the country has to import spare parts from other countries.
There has been an increase in hybrid vehicles due to a tax incentive introduced in 2011. After 2014, the tax on EVs was waived off. However, 90% of these vehicles were reconditioned and required battery replacement within a few years of import. There are no e-battery importers in Sri Lanka, a key concern, and no formal method of recycling/reusing batteries and other parts.
In 2021, Sri Lanka received an initial project preparation grant from GEF for e-mobility. The country’s NDCs have been revised to include a dedicated sector on e-mobility. The country has also received GGGI support for a feasibility study on implementing ITS in public transport in Colombo, focusing on the EV aspect. Cabinet approval has been sought for using EVs and a strategic action plan will be developed that will include modes of transport for which EVs are viable, energy mix, manufacturing facilities, charging infrastructure, end-of-life of parts, employment opportunities and funds.
Mr. Ashish Rao Ghorpade, Deputy Director, ICLEI South Asia, made a brief presentation on the Clean Mobility CoP, facilitated by the Asia LEDS Partnership. There are nine countries and more than 60 participants involved in this CoP. The ongoing activities include assistance to Asia Clean Mobility High Ambition Leadership Group, support to Chang Mai city on improving ridership and a study of post COVID-19 recovery in countries focusing on mobility.
Mr. Sudhendu J. Sinha, Advisor, NITI Ayog, provided some insights on India’s plans for promoting e-mobility. The FAME scheme has been restrategized, raising interest in electric vehicles, especially in the two-wheeler segment. There is a plan to aggregate the demand for and to support about 300,000 three-wheelers. Vehicles will be ordered in bulk, which may reduce the upfront cost and increase affordability.
In nine cities, old buses will be phased out and replaced by e-buses. The idea is to create nine ‘lighthouse cities’ for a snowball effect on other cities. Facilities manufacturing advanced chemical cells will be identified and infrastructure and financial incentives will be offered. Instead of charging stations, charging points should be installed in residential areas and office spaces, and on electric poles, from where 2/3-wheelers can be charged. This is planned to be developed in four to six months.