A fleet of 19 new electric vehicles (EVs) hit the roads in Bhutan as the country gears towards zero-emission mobility by 2050. 

Thimphu, 6 March 2023: The 19 EVs were supported through a USD 1.1 million project supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP. The remaining three cars will be procured soon.

The project titled, “Leveraging Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to achieve net-zero emissions and climate-resilient development, in response to the climate emergency,” is a partnership between the Government of Japan and UNDP’s next phase of the Climate Promise: From Pledge to Impact. It aims to help countries turn their NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) carbon reduction targets into concrete results.

UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative Mohammad Younus formally handed over the EVs to the Cabinet Secretary Dasho Kesang Deki today.

The Cabinet Secretary, on behalf of the people and Royal Government of Bhutan conveyed appreciation to the Government and people of Japan, and UNDP for the support, notwithstanding the difficult times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. She said the support will go a long way in building public confidence in EV and reducing Bhutan’s dependence on import of fossil fuel.

Eight quick charging stations will be installed at strategic locations through the project. It will also build the capacity of EV technicians and work towards creating an enabling policy for EV promotion and increase awareness on EVs to boost consumer confidence. These will help improve the EV ecosystem in the country.

The project builds on the “Bhutan Sustainable Low-Emission Urban Transport System” project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by UNDP, which helped 291 taxi drivers switch to EVs.  It will help Bhutan achieve its goal to always remain carbon neutral.

UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative commended Bhutan’s bold transition to e-mobility to decarbonize the transport sector. He thanked the Governments of Bhutan and Japan for the partnership. “EVs are an important solution for countries to meet their emission reduction targets. Our EV partnerships seek to demonstrate the viability of a low-emission transport system and pave the way for wider and faster adoption of EVs to reduce dependence on fossil fuel. It’s imperative that we keep the EV momentum alive. UNDP remains committed to provide the support needed and at speed and scale,” said Mr. Younus.

Bhutan’s 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 accounted 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.

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 offset 5,585 kg of CO2 yearly. This is 83,775 kg over a period of 15 years, estimated life of the EV cars.