Electrification of vehicles is an important tool to align the transport sector with a climate neutral future and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Focused on climate actions, this year’s annual session of UNECE’s Inland Transport Committee (ITC) agreed on dedicated actions to facilitate wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by working on policy harmonization, improving relevant data collection, and fostering global exchanges among experts in the public and private sector.
Electrification is reshaping the way the transport sector is powered, shifting away from liquid fossil fuels. Countries in the UNECE region are already advancing towards electrification and are expected to make further progress, given that most of them have made pledges and commitments to adopt zero tailpipe vehicles in the coming decades.
According to the International Energy Agency, in 2021, 18 UNECE member States were among the top 20 countries for EV sales worldwide, with the highest percentage of EV sales in Norway (86%), followed by Iceland (72%) and Sweden (43%).
However, several challenges hamper the massive adoption of EVs. In addition to higher purchase costs, a common fear among motorists is that they will run out of power before they reach an available charging station. EV charging equipment and stations are still not as widespread as petrol stations. Even when they do exist, they have constraints in terms of the number of devices, power, accessibility, geographical location, and pricing.
To address these important issues, a dedicated side event of the ITC annual session gathered a group of experts to explore policy tools that countries may use to overcome barriers to massive adoption of EVs.
“ITC fully embraces the already booming electrification of transport and many of its working parties are looking forward to tackling electrification as part of their regular tasks,” said Ms. Els de Wit, Chair of the UNECE Working Party on Transport Trends and Economics and moderator of the side event. “There is so much scope for further action here, whether on harmonized data production, improved communications protocols or plug design, and better managing grid integration activities, as well as accessibility and affordability of charging.”
Coming from the Department of Transport of the United Kingdom, the European Association of Electromobility (AVERE), the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation of the United States, the International Energy Agency, and the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission, the experts focused their discussion on the importance of creating a seamless experience for EV users.
Accurate, transparent and impartial data are essential to understand trends in EVs charging infrastructure across countries and can facilitate the adoption of efficient policies. Up-to-date information about the location of recharging stations, their availability and speed would give motorists confidence to undertake long-distance travel in EVs.
The experts also noted that EVs may play an important role in integration of renewable electricity sources. For example, they can be used as electricity storage when parked, whereas during peak demand periods they can help grid balancing and lower the carbon footprint of energy production.
ITC is the ultimate UN regulatory platform for road, rail, inland waterway, and intermodal transport. As such, it is uniquely placed to develop globally harmonized regulatory provisions to ensure that the use of EVs is safe, environmentally friendly, affordable, easy to access and interoperable, thus increasing their potential to decarbonize transport.
In the coming period, UNECE’s Working Party on Transport Statistics and the Working Party on Trends and Economics will establish a steady workflow on passenger EVs and its charging infrastructure and will explore harmonized definitions, including enhanced data collection.
At the same time, the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations will consider the need for a dedicated workflow on harmonization of technical standards, both software and hardware, related to EVs and recharging infrastructure.
Note to editors
The Inland Transport Committee (ITC) is the UN platform for inland transport to help efficiently address global and regional needs in inland transport. In the course of the past 75 years, together with its subsidiary bodies, ITC has provided an intergovernmental forum where UNECE and United Nations Member States come together to forge tools for economic cooperation and negotiate and adopt international legal instruments on inland transport. These legal instruments are considered indispensable for developing efficient, harmonized and integrated, safe and sustainable inland transport systems. Learn more