The World Health Organization estimates that about 7 million people die because of air pollution every year, with more than 80% of people living in urban areas where the levels of pollutants exceed the WHO guideline limits. Considering that, according to the IEA, transportation is responsible for almost one quarter of direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion and that 68% of the world population will be living in urban areas by 2050 (vs 55% in 2018), the need of decarbonizing transports in cities is urgent.
In a joint effort to investigate the opportunities offered by the electrification of public transport, Enel Foundation and Navigant, a Guidehouse company, developed a research paper analyzing co-benefits and positive externalities for the residents of large urban areas worldwide. This work, jointly developed by two leading research organizations with extensive knowledge of the electric mobility sector, outlines impacts of the electrification of transport covering the important space of public transportation. The research paper is intended as a tool for city planners, industry experts and researchers.
Several cities around the world – Shenzhen, Santiago, Bogotá, Tokyo, New York, Medellín – were selected as case studies to examine global urban approaches to the problem of transport decarbonization. Each city faces a unique set of challenges resulting from not only local environmental problems, but also its own topographical, technological, economic, and societal contexts. Consequently, a diverse range of solutions has been deployed, which can provide valuable insights and learnings from cities around the world.
The main findings of the research confirm that the electrification of public transportation could benefit greatly the environment and thus human life, saving billions of euros in healthcare and lost lives.
Some positive examples on innovative schemes to introduce electric buses in cities, namely the Enel X projects in Santiago del Chile and Bogotá, underline a valuable solution to decarbonize cities. Because of their dimension and reliance on fixed timetables, urban public bus fleets can become giant batteries on wheels, rechargeable regularly and efficiently. They can thus be perfect means to transport large amounts of people, minimizing both urban congestion and pollution.
This is the first output in a collaboration where Enel Foundation will continue to explore joint projects with Navigant Research, a market research and advisory firm that provides in-depth analysis of clean, intelligent, mobile, and distributed energy.