Now is the time to reimagine transport to create jobs, promote economic development, improve health and bolster equal access to opportunities. Photo by Bruno Campos de Souza/WRI Brasil
In the global conversation around decarbonizing transport, the spotlight on electric vehicles has never shone brighter. The EV revolution is underway, with consumers embracing them in record numbers and manufacturing ramping up around the world.
And yet, electric vehicles will not solve the problem alone. The 13 million electric vehicles in the world today account for just 1% of passenger vehicles.
But even if all cars were shifted to electric to limit climate impact, the structural problems of car-centric infrastructure would persist: deaths and injuries from road crashes; unequal access to jobs, markets, education, and health services; and poor system resilience. If we don’t fundamentally change how we move people and goods, the world is on its way to 2 billion cars by 2050 and a 60% increase in transport emissions, which is simply unsustainable.
To create tomorrow’s transport systems, we must build on the momentum around electric vehicles and aim even higher, for a world where cities are compact and connected, and buses and public transportation are preferred over private cars.
Next Generation of Transport
In many ways, developing countries are well-positioned to create the next generation of transport systems. Walking, public transport and cycling are already ingrained into the cultural fabric of many fast-growing, developing-world cities. The question is how to ensure these habits persist, even if private cars become affordable and feasible.
By designing transport systems for people, not cars, developing nations may “leapfrog” the mistakes of many wealthy countries and avoid a “motorization trap.”
Public buses can go a long way toward improving equitable access to opportunity for more people while reducing emissions, even more so if they are electric. WRI is working with partners in more than 20 cities around the world to provide technical assistance and other aid to introduce electric buses.