Progress on Bhutan's Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System Project

Email

Bhutan now has 200 electric vehicles on the road, with another hundred to be dispatched very soon.

Bhutan is the world’s first carbon-negative country. 60% of Bhutanese land is covered in forest — as mandated by their constitution. 

Unfortunately, an increased number of vehicles in the country has led to the drastic rise in greenhouse emissions, even crossing over to unhealthy levels. 

A big source of the air pollution is the commercial vehicles. In the year 2018, commercial vehicles accounted for 20% of all vehicles in Bhutan, contributing to two-thirds of the greenhouse gases in the country. Their carbon neutral status is in danger unless they act fast. 

And act fast they did. What followed was the birth of the Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System Project, an initiative that aims to reduce carbon emission and dependence on fossil fuels. Among the actions taken by the project is to replace taxis (commercial vehicles) with electric vehicles (EVs).

After a fair share of challenges, the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s Office has declared the government efforts to replace 300 taxis with EVs a roaring success. Close to 200 EVs have been dispatched thus far and over a hundred more are expected to grace Bhutanese roads by December this year. 

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) website, the aforementioned project was introduced to facilitate the low-carbon transition in Bhutan’s urban transport sector by the promotion of low-emission vehicles, especially electric vehicles, as the primary mode of transport. The project hoped to increase the number of EVs on the road by four-folds by the end of the three-year period, of which they have succeeded. Ultimately, Bhutan aspires to maintain their carbon-neutral status.

According to the EV Project Unit office, through replacing the 200 taxis with EVs, they have succeeded in reducing carbon emissions by about 1,500 tons. In total, the 300 EVs will reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by 43,000 tons within nine years, since one car releases an estimate of 16 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

But it has not been a bed of roses of the project which has experienced some setbacks. The initial deadline was set for September 2021. However, the pandemic caused a backlog in the supply chain. Motor dealers were unable to deliver the orders on time.

The process was definitely not smooth-sailing in other aspects either. EVs are not cheap. In spite of the 20% funding by UNDP for taxi drivers, it was not enough to cover the cost of the car. To ensure that taxi drivers get the necessary funding, key leaders worked with the Royal Monetary Authority. As a result, Bank of Bhutan offered loans without collateral that covered 70% of an electric car. This way, taxi drivers only had to pay 10% of the total cost.

The financial aid worked. As of 2020, only 67 taxi drivers purchased the EVs. However, come April 2022, the booking of all 300 EV taxis were confirmed, even to the extent of being oversurbscribed with about 30 people put on a waiting list.

That being said, one challenge to the EV operation remains: charging stations. According to the World Bank, Bhutan needs 648 charging stations across the country to meet the demand and support the 300 vehicles.

In 2015, five charging stations were installed. Later, another 20 or so charging stations were installed across seven districts, including six western districts and Phuentsholing in the south. Soon, every dzongkhag will have a charging station. Furthermore 10 charging stations will be installed in Thimphu at strategic locations along the national highway, thanks to the support of Japan’s Supplementary Budget and the Bhutan for Life office.

All in a day’s work of Bhutan’s uphill yet vital efforts to remain carbon neutral.



Related Posts

Electric vehicles are Bhutan’s answer to air pollution

Air pollution by vehicles is a threat to Bhutan’s carbon-neutral status. But the Bhutanese have found a solution.

Feb 28, 2022 12:13

Translation of His Majesty's Address to the Nation at the 8th...

His Majesty delivered the Royal Address on the Opening Ceremony of the 8th Session of the Third Parliament, 4th...

Nov 05, 2022 15:23

Bhutan has a new brand and tagline, BHUTAN: Believe

Believe is about more than just tourism. It is about transforming the nation as a whole.

Oct 09, 2022 14:38

Bhutan to host the world’s toughest race

The race will cover a distance of 222 kilometres through difficult terrain, majestic mountains, and lofty glaciers.

Aug 29, 2022 22:08

New Riverside Market opens in Thimphu

As the old centenary farmers market undergoes its much-awaited renovations, the vendors of the first floor have now set...

Aug 15, 2022 18:04

CNN lists Tergo-La trek among 23 of the world's best hiking...

CNN travel recently published a list of “23 of the world’s best hiking trails” for their “Monthly Ticket” travel series.

Jul 28, 2022 19:25

Latest

News

Progress on Bhutan's Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System Project

Bhutan now has 200 electric vehicles on the road, with another hundred to be dispatched very soon.

Nov 29, 2022 18:13

Translation of His Majesty's Address to the Nation at the 8th Session of the Third Parliament

His Majesty delivered the Royal Address on the Opening Ceremony of the 8th Session of the Third Parliament, 4th November, 2022.

Nov 05, 2022 15:23

Features

Bhutanese actor raise awareness on climate change by cycling through Bhutan

Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk launched The Messenger: Ride for Action, planting trees and talking to everybody.

Nov 25, 2022 15:18

Cordyceps Sinensis, the super mushrooms of Bhutan

Cordyceps Sinensis has many health benefits, which includes being an aphrodisiac.

Sep 25, 2022 16:50

Business

Bhutanese streaming platform Samuh is gaining international recognition

Founder and CEO of Samuh, Nyema Zam, recently won the Business Rice Awards 2022.

Dec 30, 2022 19:15

School in Lhuentse embrace entrepreneurship through Chip Production Unit

Bhutan endeavours to guide their youth towards innovation and creativity. The trickle-down effect has seen Tangmachu Central School’s...

Nov 29, 2022 18:04

Sports

Paro FC wins the 2022 BOB Bhutan Premier League

Paro FC wins third Premier League title in nail biting fashion in final match of the season.

Jan 09, 2023 15:45

More Bhutanese youths are engaged in football

Sitting at the 186th position in the FIFA rankings, Bhutan looks to improve its rankings in the years to come.

Aug 03, 2022 20:19

Travel

A tale of two airports in Bhutan

As the slow pace towards a pre-pandemic world begins, two of the country’s domestic airports are going through their own challenges and...

Nov 03, 2022 16:30

What you need to know about birdwatching in Bhutan

The best seasons and locations for birdwatching in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Sep 25, 2022 16:57

Lifestyle

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

COVID-19

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!