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The Swiss Cree SAM - A three wheeled electric car - 1534
Personal mobility takes many forms. This is the Swiss Cree - a three- wheeled electric car which works in narrow streets and busy cities
-Image by Amada44, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Great news! China and the USA the world’s two biggest emitters, have issued a joint statement that they will work together to limit climate change. Let’s hope that they quickly move to action.

In another landmark agreement reached at Glasgow earlier this month, 31 countries, hundreds of cities, regions and companies agreed to have all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission (ZEVs) by 2040 and by 2035 in leading markets. They include European countries such as Austria and Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Lithuania, Luxembourg, Ukraine and Turkey and others such as India, Azerbaijan, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, El Salvador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

China, South Korea, India, Singapore and Indonesia all plan to phase out sales of fossil fuel cars by 2040. Sri Lanka plans to do so by 2025.


China is the world’s largest producer of cars, turning out 29 million of them in 2018. Although it hasn’t set strict targets it hopes to phase out production of fossil fuel cars and wants at least one fifth of its fleet to be hybrid or electric by 2025. It has been offering tax rebates and subsidies towards the cost of new electric cars since 2013 and has introduced strict regulations on production of fossil fuel car plants that they must meet high efficiency standards.

The city of Shenzhen  tripled its bus fleet and became the first in the world to electrify 100% of its buses. The city also has a car-sharing service using electric mini cars, as does the city of Hangzhou. 


In 2015 Taiwan instructed its Ministry of Transportation to begin phasing out fossil fuel- based vehicles. It began by introducing electric buses in 2017 and banned sales of new non  -electric vehicles. All buses and government cars will be electric by 2030 and it has backed this up with a large number of charging stations. Two thirds of the vehicles on its roads are non -electric scooters and motor cycles which it expects to phase out by 2035. Any remaining non -electric cars will be phased out by 2040.


In 2018 Japan was third in the world for plug in vehicles after China and the US. It has 7.3 million hybrid vehicles on the road and 23,000 charging stations. Japan aims to have all passenger cars to be either hybrid or electric by 2050 by which time it expects its emissions to fall by 90% from 2010 levels.

Nissan will stop selling diesel cars in the EU from 2021 and Toyota will stop selling them by 2022. However, this will not apply to commercial vehicles or trucks.


In 2018 South Korea had the second highest penetration of EVs in Asia (2%) after China (4.4%). In the same year, it set itself the target of becoming 30% electric by 2030. It has done this by creating more charging stations and charging points, creating longer lasting batteries and making such cars more affordable.

The city of Seoul, the nation’s capital, has subsidised 10,000 vehicles by 2019 and expects to increase that to 80,000 by 2022. It will also help state funded businesses and organisations to acquire 1690 EVs. It is also providing grants for hydrogen cell cars. It also offers half price parking, exemption from congestion charges and a 50% discount on battery charging within the city.


Singapore wants to become  the first oil and diesel free country in South East Asia. To this end it is not only banning the sale of new ICE vehicles by 2030, but will also have them off its streets by 2040. To encourage the switch to EVs. It is offering generous rebates up SG$ 20,000 ($US 14,375) upon registration and expanding its network of charging stations from 1600 at present to 28,000 by 2030. Big oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are beginning to install them at their service stations so that they won't be redundant following the switch to EVs.


Indonesia is the world’s 4th most populous country. As well as phasing out ICE vehicles by 2050 and petrol driven motor bikes by 2040, every vehicle on its homegrown rideshare platform will be electric by 2030.

It is also going into large scale battery production and already has several Chinese companies investing in its 2000 ha industrial park set up near its nickel mines in Sulawesi.While it is ideally placed for this as far as resources go - it has nickel ore reserves, bauxite, manganese and copper, most of its power will be coming from coal with only 4% coming from renewables, so switching to EVs may reduce pollution in its major cities but do little to reduce emissions elsewhere, as China has already discovered. Although the huge uptake of EVs reduced pollution in China’s cities, it has increased emissions nationwide 2-5 times.

Things will only get worse if Indonesia’s plans for 20 new coalfired power stations go ahead to meet the new battery production proposals. Farmers near coal mines in East Kalimantan and Java are already complaining about contamination of land and water there, so an expansion of coal mining is likely to make this worse too.


In 2015 Vietnam was home to 43 million scooters which 85% of the population used to commute to work. Unfortunately since these predominantly run on diesel or petrol,  it was also home to some of the world’s worst air pollution ranking 20th on global surveys. 

For this reason Vietnam’s largest conglomerate VinFast, began producing six types of electric scooters in 2018 and has now branched out into EVs which sell for about half the cost of imported models. It is also establishing 2000 charging stations and plans to launch in Canada and the US in the near future. 

While much of its power still comes from fossil fuels, around 15.22% came from renewables in 2019 compared to 6.09% in Indonesia. 


India is using subsidies to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2030. With 80% of India’s fleet being 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles it has banned the production of fossil fuel cars and expects these to be replaced with a wide range of electric vehicles such as electric scooters, motorbikes and rickshaws.

In 2019, India’s share of renewable energy was 8.96%, but this should rise as some of its new mega solar farms come on line.

 The Indian City of Hydrabad welcomes its new fleet of electric buses


Israel has had a low emission policy since 1990 when it planned to phase out coal, petrol and diesel for electricity production as well as vehicles. However uptake of EVs was slow. In October 2018 following a UN report that climate change must be reined in within twelve years, Israel announced that it would be banning the import of petrol and diesel cars. Since then Israel has been encouraging uptake with high tax exemptions and the installation of 2000 charging stations.

Although gas is a fossil fuel and its extraction usually releases methane, it releases only half as much CO2 as petrol and diesel do when used in vehicles. Having discovered substantial gas deposits, Israel will switch to gas for buses and trucks.

While Israel’s energy mix still relies predominantly on fossil fuels, the proportion of renewables -only 2.3% in 2019, is rising steeply.


It isn't always about cars. These are electric scooters in use at Austin University, Texas. The city of Austin also has electric scooters for use on its trails

-This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY


Latin America and the Caribbean with their highly urban populations (81% and expected to rise to 85% by 2050) have become leaders in a number of fields particularly with regard to electrified public transport and long-distance buses, short and medium distance freight vehicles, all categories of private and micro mobility vehicles and even electrified mining vehicles. It is also well on the way to decarbonising its economy with renewables providing 56% of its energy. Costa Rica leads the way because as a founding member of the BOGA alliance, it has legislated to end dependence on fossil fuels.

Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, The Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Paraguay, have all committed to phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about this because most of the information is in Spanish. However, here are some typical examples.  

Mexico City once regarded as one of the world’s most polluted cities, has greatly improved its public transit system which is bus – based, affordable and efficient. Its dedicated bus lanes make it faster than driving and for the city the cost of implementation is twenty times less expensive than extending its Metro. Seventy per cent of its users previously drove cars.

This was accelerated through MOVE, the regional version of the UN’s #RouteZero Campaign which supports 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It works to turn commitments under MoveToZero, into reality. 

The City of Bogota, the capital of Colombia is a member of MOVE. In 2020, EV sales in Columbia increased by 42%. Bogota is also a member of the 37 C40 Cities which will promote other forms of transport such as walking and cycling and expanding low or zero emission public transport.This group includes cities from Paris to Portland, Dubai to Delhi and London to Jakarta (see below). While mainly dedicated to improving air quality electrified transport plays a major role.

The C40 Cities

Amman, Austin, Barcelona, Bengaluru, Berlin, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Durban (eThekwini), Guadalajara, Heidelberg, Houston, Jakarta, Lima, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Madrid, MedellĂ­n, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv – Yafo, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington DC

The Zero Emission Rapid Accelerator Partnership (ZEBRA) begun in 2019, is a partnership between the C40 cities, the International Clean Air Council  (ICC) and others to facilitate the purchase of 3,600 e-buses in Latin America, particularly  in Medellin, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. It has a $1 billion investment fund and is also involved in knowledge sharing between members of the C40.

has also joined countries, cities and companies which are part of the Drive Electric Campaign — a global coalition to accelerate the transition to 100% clean electric vehicles in twenty years. This group includes companies wishing to convert their fleet and links them to experts, electricity and infrastructure providers, investors, researchers and philanthropic support.

Chile wants to phase out petrol and diesel driven cars as early as 2035 and its public transport  will be zero emission by 2022. Argentina is considering a similar bill.

Rio de Janeiro has committed to purchasing only zero emission buses from 2025 and making city transport emission free by 2030.

Cuba plans to reduce vehicle missions by 50% by 2030 and Havana will be switching to 100% hybrid (diesel -electric) buses

Barbados (pop. 300,000) began operating a fleet of 35 electric buses in 2020 and now has 50 of them on its roads. It also has 430 EVs. 

If MOVE is about mass transit, then the Drive to Zero is about bringing commercial fleet operators on board. This coalition brings together manufacturers, utility and infrastructure providers, investors and even donors to hasten the switch to electric vehicles. Countries, states and cities have signed on to this, including Chile and Bogota and it is also active in other regions such as parts of Africa and the Middle East. 

Renault's Twizy is typical of the new range of mini electric cars. Designed for use in urban areas it has a range of 50 miles or 80.47 kms  and will do around 80 kms an hour, slightly less uphill. Cost in the UK is around £12,000 or $USD 16,107.


Commercial vehicles

CALSTART based in the Netherlands is a similar coalition for the purpose of phasing out non -electric vans, buses and light trucks. Fifteen countries and several subnational governments have signed the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (ZE-MHDVs), agreeing work together toward 100% zero-emission new truck and bus sales by 2040. They include Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Wales and are setting an interim goal of 30% zero-emission new vehicle sales by 2030.Watch their presentation here.

Shared Mobility

Another major growth area is shared mobility. Apart from conventional services such as taxis and hire cars, computer coordinated ride -share platforms have taken off exponentially especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Sharing a vehicle is possibly the quickest and cheapest way to halve emissions, but populations will continue to grow and as more people aspire to vehicle ownership, the switch to renewable energy will become even more important, not just having electric vehicles.

Many more country profiles could be shown here but this will give you a snapshot of where the world is heading and how fast things are changing. I must say that after decades of convergence, I haven't seen such a diversity of vehicles nor such an explosion of creativity or excitement from car makers since John de Lorean built his gull -wing sports car in 1981. There are even some small EVs with gull -wing doors! Check out some of the new compact cars here.


Next up – Trucks, Trains, Planes and Ships (not necessarily in that order).