E-buses help cities meet climate goals on GHG emission reduction.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our age. Around the world, leaders are looking for ways to mitigate societies’ carbon footprints and move towards more sustainable ways of living and doing business. Over 700 cities across the world have already pledged to reduce their GHG emissions; each year, new cities join the ranks of those who have set ambitious climate goals.
Cutting transport emissions is one of the toughest but most crucial challenges in reaching these goals – currently accounting for 37% of global CO2 emissions; transport sector emissions must fall by 20 % by 2030 if we are to stay under 1.5 degrees. Electrification plays a major role in achieving this goal – by some estimates, policies on efficiency, electrification and fuels can get us 85 % of the way there. The potential of electro-mobility is being recognized at the highest level, as demonstrated by Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment of Chile and President of the UN Climate Change Conference COP25. „To decisively confront climate change, electromobility is critical. We are taking a leap towards a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable transport system.”
Buses alone made up 5.5% of global transport emissions in 20215, with electric buses emitting significantly less CO2 than diesel buses. Although exact emission reductions are difficult to quantify due to differences in local contexts, the positive effect of adopting electric buses is indisputable. Various studies estimate that electric buses emit between 30% to 60% less CO2 than diesel buses. Actual levels of emission reductions can vary depending on the vehicle model, such as overall weight, technical equipment, such as air conditioning, and the energy source. Still, these emission reductions can make a significant contribution: according to the IEA, emissions from buses must reduce by 25% (from 0.409 Gt to 0.301 Gt) by 2030 if we are to stay on track for the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.
Moreover, electrifying urban bus fleets has important knock-on effects for the decarbonization of the rest of the transportation sector. Research has shown that electrifying transit buses can help build manufacturing capacity and supply chains, facilitate technology transfer and build familiarity with charging needs. This in turn sets the groundwork to electrify other heavy-duty vehicles which contribute significantly to transport emissions, including cargo vans, shuttle buses, refuse trucks, and medium and long-haul trucks. Colombia, for example, established vehicle electrification goals that initially prioritize transit buses with the goal of supporting broader zero-emission vehicle deployments. With 25 % of global road emissions coming from heavy-duty trucks alone, cities can help kickstart broader decarbonization processes by adopting electric buses.
In 2009, São Paulo introduced a Climate Law – the first to be approved in a major city in Latin America – which established ambitious targets for reducing GHG emissions. At the core of the law are goals for electrifying São Paolo’s municipal bus fleet. This transition to electric buses is indispensable for meeting the emission reduction goals set in the Climate Law, a study by ICCT found. Now as a TUMI deep-dive partner, São Paulo is working hard to meet its next goal of making at least 20% of its vehicle fleet zero-emission by the end of 2024, which translates to 2,600 e-buses operating on São Paulo’s streets.
Link to other key messages
Emissions from urban diesel buses are harmful not just for our planet, but for the health of city residents too. To learn about how e-buses improve air and noise quality, click here.