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At the cross-roads: take the right turn towards electric buses

4 December 2018

This week, all eyes are on Katowice (Poland) and the Climate Change Conference COP24, where countries have to agree on how they will achieve the the goal of minimizing climate change to less than 2°C warming, decided three years earlier at COP21 in Paris. In his opening address Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary-General) highlights which steps need to be taken immediately to get closer to reaching this goal – one of them is the electrification of transport, which accounts for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to dangerously poor air quality in cities.

A new report titled “Electric buses arrive on time“ (Transport & Environment), examines the transition towards sustainable, low carbon transport through public procurement. It maps out the shift from diesel powered to electric busses in Europe. “In 2017, the number of electric bus orders more than doubled - from 400 in 2016 to more than 1,000. In 2018, the market share is estimated to be around 9%, marking the transition from niche to mainstream and the beginning of a steep and necessary uptake curve.”

Electric buses already offer a better total cost of ownership (TCO) than diesel buses when external (public health) costs are included. Beyond costs, electric buses offer many additional benefits compared to their fossil fueled counterparts: superior image and comfort, no stranded assets from investing in gas infrastructure, using locally produced (renewable) energy and ensuring energy sovereignty by replacing oil consumption.

The earlier cities transition to a zero emission bus fleet, the better.

However, there are challenges to implementation, for instance coping with the higher capital costs of zero-emissions buses. Lucien Mathieu, author of the report and transport and e-mobility analyst at T&E, has a solution for that, too: “a grant could be made available through the new EU budget from 2020. This should be complemented by a Europe-wide zero emission sales target for new buses.”(Euroactiv)

For inspirational examples of zero emission public procurement, visits the website of ICLEI led European project BuyZET, in which cities use procurement of innovative solutions for zero emission urban delivery of goods and services.

For more case studies on the topic of clean urban transport, head over to our resource centre.