Shifting to Efficient and Zero Emissions Vehicles in the Global South

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There is urgency for countries in the Global South to put in place clear policies and incentives to support the shift to efficient and zero emission vehicles.

Various factors contribute this urgency such as the high vehicle growth rate already taking pace and projected to continue in the Global South, worsening fuel economy trends as shown by the country baseline assessments carried out in more than 70 countries, and rising import of used vehicles with obsolete technologies resulting in increasing vehicle emissions. This was the message by over 60 participants from the Global South that attended a GFEI workshop at the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from 13 - 15 June, 2022.

“Increasing vehicle emissions in cities like Nairobi poses serious health challenges for all populations, and especially those jogging along roadsides everyday” said Ms. Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UNEP’s Director for the Economy Division as she gave her opening remarks. She said that she owns and drives a 20-year-old electric car in the Kenya and that she is glad that someone thought about these zero emissions technologies then.

The objectives and goals of the GFEI as well as the need for the Global South to be included in international climate discussions was presented by Ms. Sheila Watson of the FIA Foundation. She noted that the GFEI was the first global initiative to promote vehicle fuel economy in the Global South from its inception 2009. Other GFEI partners - the IEA, ITF, ICCT and UNEP - made further interventions ranging from transport contribution to global CO2 emissions to the global electric mobility programme.

A case of the glass half empty or half full was presented by Sudhir Gota, an independent consultant who analyzed fuel economy baselines of light duty vehicles in more than 100 countries in the Global South. He noted that while there have been some marginal improvements (1.2%) in the fuel economy in the Global South resulting from technological improvements in vehicle fleets imported, this improvement was not enough to achieve the GFEI targets (2.7%).

The GFEI has played a significant role in improving vehicle fuel economy in the Global South as estimated by Sudhir. Without GFEI interventions and subsequent country policies (pre-GFEI), by 2030, the fuel economy in the Global South could have improved marginally by 10% from 2005 levels. However, because of various fuel economy interventions (post-GFEI scenario), it is estimated that the 2030 fuel economy will be 27% better compared to 2005 levels.

The meeting pinpointed the opportunities existing in the Global South to leapfrog to efficient and zero emission vehicles. Such as an abundance of clean and renewable energy sources, availability of electric 2&3 wheeler motorcycles that was noted to be the highest rising transport mode and plans by many cities to improve public transportation. Recommendations to improve data collection and management, incentivize zero emissions vehicles through national and regional policy, and capacity building and communication outreach were proposed. Countries were urged to take advantage of current global challenges such as the rising fuel prices and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the economic justification through creation of green jobs in the Global South to implement low and zero emissions mobility.

Click here to download and read the Workshop recommendations. 

Click here to view all the presentations and meeting documents.

Watch the meeting recordings for the different days:
Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3: