Japan, UNDP support new electric vehicle project to fast-track Bhutan’s net-zero emission goal

The USD 1.1 million project is a part of the Government of Japan’s partnership with UNDP’s next phase of the Climate Promise: from Pledge to Impact. It seeks to accelerate promotion of electric vehicles to advance Bhutan’s carbon neutral ambition.

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The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a new electric vehicle (EV) project for which the Government of Japan has provided USD 1.1 million.

The signing took place at the Gross National Happiness Commission Conference Hall on 14 May 2022. Mr. Hiroyuki Yamashita, First Secretary and Mr. Shun Hosaka, Second Secretary from the Embassy of Japan in Bhutan (based in New Delhi) attended the signing ceremony.

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The project titled, “Leveraging Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to achieve net-zero emissions and climate-resilient development, in response to the climate emergency,” will be implemented in capital Thimphu by the EV Project Management Unit at the Prime Minister’s Office with technical support from UNDP Bhutan.

The project will support the procurement of 19 EVs and installation of eight quick charging stations at strategic locations. It will also build the capacity of policy makers in the transport sector as well as EV technicians, and work towards creating an enabling policy for EV promotion and increasing awareness on EVs to boost consumer confidence.

Building on the ongoing “Bhutan Sustainable Low-Emission Urban Transport System” project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by UNDP, the new project will help Bhutan maintain its commitment to remain carbon neutral reiterated in its Second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The Second NDC highlights the importance of reducing emissions from the transport sector, which remains one of the major carbon emitters in the country. Vehicle emissions account for 60% of the total emissions from the energy sector, amounting to approximately 398,829 metric tons of CO2e emissions in 2019. Projections indicate emissions from the transport sector could hit 1.25 million metric tons by 2050 under the business-as-usual scenario.

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Most significant rise in GHG emissions is expected from light vehicles (3.8 times), followed by medium vehicles (3.6 times) and heavy vehicles (3 times). Currently, light vehicles (including taxis) and two-wheelers combined account for more than 81 percent of the total registered vehicles, while heavy and medium public transport buses together constitute less than a percent. Further, almost 99.9% of motor vehicles in Bhutan are powered by diesel or petrol. The new project will result in a reduction of 5,585 kg of CO2, which is 83,775 kg over a period of 15 years (estimated life of the EV cars).

The Officiating Secretary of GNHC Wangchuk Namgay thanked the Government of Japan and UNDP for the support. “The Japanese Supplementary Budget II, in complementarity, would assist in the translation of national aspirations and commitments of carbon neutrality into action on the ground. As an instrumental transformation, green development through e-mobility is a valued priority to mitigate climate change.”

“We appreciate the timely support received from the Government of Japan through UNDP in Bhutan’s endeavor to remain carbon neutral for all times to come. Transport sector in Bhutan has been identified as the primary source of GHG emission. This project will help to promote a low carbon development pathway in the transport sector in Bhutan and complement our efforts of reducing dependency on imported fossil fuel,” said the EV Project Management Unit with the Prime Minister’s Office.

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“This project will support the implementation of Bhutan’s Second NDC, which is informed by low-emission development strategies for transport, human settlement, industries and food security. It identifies low emission development pathways to help Bhutan achieve development objectives while also maintaining its carbon neutral status. Meeting carbon reduction targets set in the 2nd NDC is central to realizing Bhutan’s ambitious climate goal, including remaining carbon neutral for all times. UNDP remains committed to working closely with the Prime Ministers’ Office in ensuring successful implementation of the project,” said Azusa Kubota, the Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan.

Hiroyuki Yamashita, First Secretary (Economic & Development) of Embassy of Japan in Bhutan (based in New Delhi), said, “The partnership between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government and people of Japan has always been centered around sustainable development of both rural and urban areas of Bhutan and mitigating vulnerabilities. Tackling the challenge of climate change by curbing CO2 emissions is particularly crucial for improving urban environment and mitigating the risk of natural disasters. We look forward to seeing transformational changes through the implementation of this project.”

Bhutan’s Second NDC and preparation of Low Emission Development Strategies were supported through the UNDP Climate Promise and NDC Support programs, financed by the EU and the governments of Italy, Sweden, Spain and Germany.

The new project is part of UNDP’s next phase of Climate Promise- From Pledge to Impact — scaling up its support to turn NDC targets into concrete results in at least hundred countries- launched at COP26. Japan is the largest supporter of this phase of the pioneering and groundbreaking initiative and joins the longstanding funding partners Germany, Sweden, EU, Spain, Italy, as well as the new funding partners UK, Belgium, Iceland, and Portugal to accelerate these efforts.

More information can be found on the Climate Promise website, climatepromise.undp.org.

Media Contacts:

Ms. Kezang Choden, Project Support Officer, Project Management Unit, Bhutan Sustainable Low-Emission Urban Transport System, Prime Minister’s Office, Mobile: +975 7762 4367, Email: kezangc@cabinet.gov.bt

Ms. Dechen Wangmo, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan, Mobile: +975 1734 3086, Email: dechen.wangmo@undp.org