The shift from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) to electric vehicles (EVs) is happening. Coalitions of leading national Governments from countries across the income range and the automotive sector have committed to ambitious mid-term targets for EVs production and use, infrastructure roll-out and gradual banning of diesel and ICE vehicles. 

However, the ultimate success of these plans and the possibility for the shift to take place quickly at a global, systemic scale and help bring forward the peak oil demand date needed to align fossil fuel demand safely with the 2°C climate target will depend on action in Parliaments around the world. The GLOBE Electro-Mobility Initiative (EMI) will work with cross-party groups of progressive legislators around the world backed by a central Secretariat so as to deliver accelerated progress in the adoption and implementation of the varied legislative measures required to provide a robust underpinning to the shift to electro-mobility. 

The Electro-Mobility Initiative (EMI) will build parliamentary capacity across the GLOBE network to deliver ambitious legislative action in support of an accelerated transition to electric vehicles through in-country support and international coordination.


The crucial role of Parliaments in keeping the shift to electro-mobility on track

The policies required to create a market for EVs, roll-out charging infrastructure and capitalise on the local economic development opportunities of electro-mobility require robust cross-party political ownership. At this point, it is evident that political interest in electro-mobility is very uneven at international level. Within the European Union alone, the level of ambition of Member States with broadly comparable circumstances, including current political forces in government, varies greatly, to the extent that observers differentiate three tiers of EU countries, where the laggards may complete the shift up to twenty years later than the frontrunners.

Parliaments will play a crucial role in determining the ambition, pace and political commitment of each nation’s shift to electro-mobility. In approving budgets, passing legislation on emissions, fiscal incentives, infrastructure investments, or creating a national framework for front-running city, in questioning and scrutinising government and educating public opinion, widely seen as a major roadblock, Members of Parliament could not be more important in escalating and accelerating the shift. At the same time, Parliaments will also be crucial in ensuring that the decarbonisation of the energy mix continues apace, to ensure that EVs do not rely on carbon-intensive power.

The international leadership platforms which emerged in 2017, such as the EV30@30 campaign, launched in Beijing in June, at the 8th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), which is coordinated by the International Energy Agency, or the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance (TDA) in November at the One Planet Summit, have brought together national governments, automotive industries, sub-national actors and public transport operators. These platforms aim to serve as acceleration hubs for the EVs shift through a variety of actions, including research and information exchange, and to “support governments in need of policy and technical assistance through training and capacity building”.

However, these platforms by themselves will not address the pre-existing and demonstrable lack of awareness and capacity of national legislators across the world to advance adequate responses to the urgent and complex challenges of creating enabling legal frameworks for the electro-mobility shift with a robust cross-party backing.

The cases of parliamentary leadership on electro-mobility are so far very rare. One remarkable exception is Costa Rica’s new incentives for EVs, which sets a helpful precedent for emerging markets, and was sponsored by Legislative Assembly Member Marcela Guerrero. In the words of Mónica Araya, founder of the Costa Rican Electric Mobility Association, “(…) One of the largest barriers to winning over the consumer is cultural. Most people are vulnerable to myths about these new technologies or are resistant to change. Giving the experience to consumers has played a critical role in educating them (and even in educating decision-makers) to make them aware of how far these technologies have gone and how charging works and why it is easier than they imagine. I work full-time on electric mobility and can attest to the positive impact that electric-transport education for consumers, decision-makers and even car dealerships had on getting the law passed in Costa Rica.” 

In addition, legislators interested in advancing electro-mobility face the challenge of making long-term decisions in an ever-changing knowledge environment. Ensuring that the fundamentals of factors such as demand and technology costs are up to date in the models being used by decision-makers to assess policy options is essential for them to accurately identify the most efficient solutions for the future and avoid public policy to end up locking in investments on the basis of obsolete technological assumptions.

The 2017 report ‘Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-Carbon technology’ by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and Carbon Tracker alerted of this danger after reviewing the peak oil demand and transport scenarios of major oil and gas producers, and stressed that “by definition, BAU scenarios involve no additional climate policy mitigation action beyond the present level, or acceleration in the extent to which low-carbon technologies impact energy markets. Given the energy transition is clearly already underway, and there is no way that BAU can meet the climate targets that many countries, states and companies have committed to, it is our contention that it is time to retire the conventional approach to use BAU as a starting point in scenario analyses. The current state of the low-carbon transition means it is highly risky to justify any business strategy by using a BAU scenario as a reference case. By changing the starting point, it shifts the focus on to how to achieve the Paris COP climate targets, i.e. a 2°C reference scenario, rather than the gap between BAU and what is already happening.” 

As a consequence, the report stresses the importance of using the latest available data and market trends for technology costs and climate policy in energy modelling for policy-making. According to the authors, “Applying up-to-date solar PV and EV cost projections, along with climate policy effort in line with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), should now be the starting point for any scenario analysis. This is not a radical disruptive scenario in terms of its inputs, but a reflection of the current state of play.”

The uptake of this critical warning by key stakeholders such rating agencies is gradually picking up. In February 2018 Ficht published the report “Batteries Update: Oil Demand Could Peak by 2030” stating “(…) Developments over the last year suggest that annual sales of 10 million battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025 are entirely achievable, based on manufacturers’ targets, public policy announcements and continued improvements in technology. This puts adoption above the “extreme thought experiment” we presented in our inaugural batteries report 15 months ago, a case which if followed could see oil demand peak in 2029. (…) To be clear this is not our base case – but it has moved from being highly unlikely in our estimation to being one of a number of plausible outcomes.”

National governments are likely to trail behind industry, finance, academia and science in the integration of the approach to electro-mobility planning recommended by the report ‘Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-Carbon technology’. For this reason, strengthening the capacity of national and sub-national parliamentary champions to exert effectively their powers of law-making, oversight and budgeting towards the delivery of ever more ambitious national and sub-national electro-mobility plans based on the latest available data will be critical to ensure that the transition to electro-mobility is as fast and systemic as possible.

GLOBE Legistators as drivers of the electro-mobility shift – The case of Argentina

Legislators across the GLOBE network have voiced an interest in benefitting from structured support to explore how to advance electro-mobility legislative packages, following the lead of GLOBE Argentina.

Since Q-3 2017 GLOBE Argentina’s leadership has been implementing a process for the passing of a comprehensive Electro-mobility Bill, in dialogue with the GLOBE International Secretariat and UNEP. The process started with a comprehensive mapping and engagement with public and private stakeholders. GLOBE Argentina also hosted the parliamentary launch of the UNEP report “Movilidad eléctrica – oportunidades para Latinoamérica”, in order to place the issue in the parliamentary agenda and start building cross-party parliamentary consensus around it.

GLOBE Argentina is keen to raise the profile of the initiative further and enrich the national debate with peer legislative experience by engaging with legislators with a successful experience in passing landmark electro-mobility legislation, and has requested support from the GLOBE International Secretariat to develop this component of their national effort with a view to Committee and plenary votes on a comprehensive bill, ideally by Q-4 2018.

Finally, on 30 November GLOBE Argentina will host a GLOBE G-20 Parliamentary Forum focused on electro-mobility legislation at the National Congress in the fringes of the G-20 Summit. The Forum will provide an opportunity for Argentine parliamentarians to share their recent legislative experience and galvanise action across the GLOBE network active in the parliaments of G-20 countries and beyond.

GLOBE chapters across the network are following this process with interest as a pilot exercise, and are keen to replicate it with the support of the GLOBE International Secretariat, so that it can help them keep abreast and draw inspiration from the progress showcased at international intergovernmental platforms such as the EV30@30 campaign and the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance.

Building on GLOBE’s decade-long efforts promoting ambitious legislative action on climate at national level across the world, and on its 2015 campaign promoting the parliamentary scrutiny of national INDCs, GLOBE will roll out an international Electro-Mobility Initiative (EMI) in response to the demands of national legislators in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon and India, in dialogue with legislators from Germany, France, Japan and the United Kingdom among others.

The aim of the programme is to provide independent policy support to national cross-party chapters of legislators keen to lead action towards the prompt adoption of EV legislation including EV penetration targets, fiscal incentives, infrastructure and city-targeted policies; the passing of legislation and budgetary instruments required for the delivery of national electro-mobility targets, the inclusion and ratcheting up of targets in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the scrutiny of the government’s progress on implementation. It will also provide a platform for the peer exchange of best legislative practices, and a resource for high-impact parliamentary diplomacy.

Over the coming year, GLOBE International will promote, resource, help design and coordinate action plans of national GLOBE chapters committed to scrutinising governments’ ongoing electro-mobility plans, push for an upward review of their ambition, and drive the legislative and policy reforms needed to deliver them, through parliamentary committee structures or as nationally appropriate. For this purpose, it will rely on knowledge partners such as Costa Rica Limpia, the organization which launched the platform www.movilidadelectrica.org, contributing to the adoption of the standard-setting Law 19744 on Incentives and Promotion of Electric Transport in Costa Rica in January 2018.