By Michael Engelskirchen, EUROCLIMA+ Urban Mobility Coordinator, GIZ

Due to the explosion of urban growth of recent decades, governments in many regions have pointed to the necessity of addressing urban mobility for the sustainable development of our cities. The transport sector’s emissions are the fastest growing source of emissions around the world, and urban transport contributes around a quarter of all energy-related GHG emissions.

Latin America is no exception. In 2019, the transport sector was responsible for 15% of total GHG emissions in the region, around 80% of the continent’s population lives in urban areas, further highlighting the need to transform the way that people move in cities through the decarbonization of transport. Electric mobility remains one of the key opportunities to achieve this.

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The high matrix of renewable electricity generation in the continent has allowed many cities to implement e-mobility projects in recent years. The increase in electric trolleybuses in Mexico City (Mexico), electric buses in Santiago de Chile (Chile) and Bogota (Colombia), or electric taxis in Colon (Panama) and Montevideo (Uruguay) are some of the many examples that demonstrate the initiatives happening across the region to reduce the use of internal combustion vehicles.

To fully achieve electrification objectives, we firmly believe that these initiatives must be accompanied by legal frameworks and national regulations that guide and promote the development of sustainable mobility in Latin American cities, and that highlight the importance of electric mobility as a key tool for climate change mitigation.

At EUROCLIMA+, the flagship program of the European Union on environmental sustainability and climate change in Latin America, we consider the National Urban Mobility Policies and Investment Programs (NUMPs) as one of the primary opportunities to achieve this goal.

The role of NUMPs in promoting e-mobility

NUMPs are strategic, action-oriented frameworks for urban mobility, developed by national governments and enacted to enhance the capacity of cities to plan, finance, and implement projects and measures designed to fulfil the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings in a sustainable manner.

At EUROCLIMA+ , the Urban Mobility sector is supported through the governments of Chile, Ecuador, and Uruguay in the development of these instruments.

In this process, we harmonize current policies, standards, sector strategies, and investment programs to build an integrated approach for the benefit of cities and their people.

Among other benefits, NUMPs will enable Latin American countries to facilitate investment in sustainable urban mobility (including e-mobility) by creating a stable and long-term framework for investment decisions.

More specifically, we work with the NUMP cycle methodology developed by MobiliseYourCity, which consists of 4 stages and 15 steps that allow us to take into account the realities and needs of each country. With a range of cross-cutting actions such as financing, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and inter-ministerial coordination, this methodology ensures proper implementation.

NUMPs have the potential to transform mobility and support countries’ climate commitments. They also provide a framework of locally appropriate public policies to develop sustainable electric mobility. This helps to solve some of the most common obstacles for e-mobility: the lack of regulatory frameworks that integrate electric mobility within a common and long-term vision of sustainable mobility, the lack of methodologies and technical knowledge at the local level, as well as financial and market obstacles.

Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Panama are some of the Latin American countries that implement national strategies or plans for electric mobility. This allows them to generate action frameworks to meet goals such as reaching 100% electrified public transport by 2050, as in the case of Chile; or to reach 70% of zero emission buses and taxis by 2035, as in the case of Costa Rica.

Towards national e-mobility in Uruguay

Since 2018, we have supported the government of Uruguay to develop a National Program for the Promotion of Electric Mobility, as well as implementation tools and regulatory instruments as a technical guide for the planning of electric urban mobility and financial mechanisms for electromobility.

The country has favorable conditions for electric mobility: 98% of its electricity matrix is ​​renewable, it has the first electric route in Latin America, as well as taxis and electric buses. It also has a robust framework of public policy related to sustainable mobility, such as environmental, energy and land use related laws, strategies, and policies.

Having a comprehensive and consistent policy is vital to successfully promoting e-mobility. It is for this reason that electric mobility has been an integral aspect of the National Urban Mobility Policy of Uruguay. With this instrument, we are supporting the country to build a 2050 vision from the paradigm of sustainable mobility, with a goal of net zero transport and mobility centered on people.

The creation of this national framework allows Uruguay to generate solutions on a city scale and from a comprehensive local, national, and multi-stakeholder vision. In this way, electromobility will be one of the guiding pillars for a broader transformation towards sustainable mobility from a social, economic, and environmental point of view.