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Making zero emission vehicles the new normal


One of the silver linings during the pandemic is seeing our skies smog-free. This was an occurrence observed in most of the cities around the world. If only we were able to keep it that way even post-Covid, we could also save more lives globally, at least seven million who die every year due to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


Now that we have adjusted to the new normal, there are still some old ways that kept coming back, including pollution from one of the significant contributors of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)—transportation, which is responsible for one-third of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that come from energy used directly by the consumer.


After the Covid-19 lockdowns reduced transport-related emissions, they have made a comeback, increasing to eight percent from 2020 to 2021—when cars, trucks and other terrestrial vehicles  made up 76.6 percent of transport’s CO2 emissions for that year.

 

The zero emission vehicles declaration


At the COP26, the climate conference hosted by Glasgow in 2021, the Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) Declaration was launched to accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral transportation sector. 


The main target is that all sales of new cars and vans should be zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets.


In taking the lead, governments must put in place policies that will enable, accelerate, or otherwise incentivize the transition to zero emission vehicles as soon as possible. Automotive manufacturers, business fleet owners and operators, investors, and financial institutions are likewise encouraged to take an active role to reach these goals.


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the share of electric cars in total sales has more than tripled in three years—from around four percent in 2020 to 14 percent in 2022, when sales exceeded 10 million.


For the first quarter of 2023, over 2.3 million electric cars were sold. The number is 25 percent more than in the same period of 2022. Current estimate is to reach 14 million by the end of the year.


Based on current trends, the growing support for electric vehicles can avoid the need for five million barrels of oil a day by 2030, according to IEA. In terms of governance, one of the leading countries is the UK, who is intent on delivering on the commitment to attain the 100 percent ZEV by 2035.


It has set out the percentage of new zero emission cars manufacturers will be required to produce each year up to 2030. The goal: 80 percent of new cars and 70 percent of new vans sold in UK are set to be zero emission by 2030, increasing to 100 percent by 2035.


But some manufacturers already plan to reach 100 percent sooner. In August, 20 percent of new cars sold were zero emission, and there are now 48,100 public chargepoints, in addition to chargepoints installed in homes.


The UK’s strategy is backed by more than £2 billion in government investment. Moreover, the UK government has introduced several schemes to lower the upfront and running costs of owning an EV, such as a plug-in van grant of up to £2,500 for small vans and £5,000 for large vans until at least 2025, and £350 off the cost of homeplace chargepoints for people living in apartments.


Rollout of EV in PH


In the Philippines, the Department of Energy (DOE) aims to increase the roll out of electric vehicles through the help of Republic Act No. 11697, or the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA), which provides for a national policy framework to develop the electric vehicle industry in the country.


In 2022, the DOE reported the registration of only 9,000 EVs, with only 327 charging stations in operation. The agency hopes that from 2023 to 2028, it can establish an EV fleet comprising 2.45 million cars, tricycles, motorcycles, and buses; as well as the installation of 65,000 EV charging stations throughout the country. From 2029 to 2034, it aims to add 1.85 million more EVs on Philippine roads, with 42,000 more charging stations.


Moreover, the issuance of Executive Order No. 12 series of 2023, which halted or reduced the import duty of electric vehicles for the next five years, is seen to help mainstream EV usage in the country.


But in order to make electric vehicles truly zero emission, we must also push for more renewable energy sources instead of coal, so that the electricity that will power these ZEVs will also be 100 percent zero emission. 

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