Bangladesh translates clean fuel and vehicle commitments into national action


May 10, 2019

In pursuit of a comprehensive multi-sector sustainable development agenda, Bangladesh is taking action to clean up its transport sector, placing policy priority on cleaner and more efficient fuels and vehicles for the national light-duty vehicle (LDV) fleet.

At the “National Workshop on Developing Clean and Efficient Vehicle Policy for Bangladesh” on April 23, transport sector representatives gathered to discuss the results of an initial baseline analysis of the LDV fleet and current trends, and to explore policy options that were tailored to the national context.

The workshop – organized by Clean Air Asia, UN Environment, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) – followed on from the inaugural stakeholder consultation held in May 2018.

The project, which is being implemented by the BRTA and RHD with support from UN Environment and Clean Air Asia, is aimed at improving fuel economy in Bangladesh, reducing harmful gas emissions, and promoting a sustainable and environmentally friendly national vehicle policy. It is aligned with the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) target of improving the average fuel economy (liters/100km) for the global LDV vehicle fleet by at least 50 percent by 2050 (the international campaign “50by50”) and by 2030 for new vehicles. These fuel efficiency gains would save up to 33Gt of CO2 by 2050 and USD $2 trillion by 2025, money that could be used to support the transition to electric vehicles.

RHD Superintending Engineer Noor E. Alam said transport contributed to a quarter of Bangladesh’s air pollutants, with emissions reductions needed if the country was to achieve its goal of becoming a developed country by 2041 (Vision 2041).

Md Nazrul Islam, Road Transport and Highway Division Secretary and Chief Guest at the event, said: “To achieve Vision 2021, a middle income country, and Vision 2041, a developed country, the introduction of clean vehicle policy for Bangladesh is a demand of time as other neighboring countries such as India and Bhutan are rapidly switching to more clean vehicle technology to reduce emissions and address a public health hazard. Carbon dioxide emissions and traffic congestion are also rapidly increasing, and we will soon make a decision about policymaking in this regard.”

“From 2005 to 2017, there was a 23.16 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 24.46 percent reduction in CO2 emissions,” Mr Alam said. “In recent years, the importing of jeeps with improved fuel economy has increased in the LDV category and is one of the main reasons for better fuel economy value together with the advanced technology present in imported vehicles.”

He said Bangladesh had improved its average fuel economy compared with global and non-OECD country averages: “In the year 2015, the non-OECD and global average fuel economy was 7.90 l/100km and 7.6 l/100km, whereas it was 7.07 l/100km.”

Among the options Bangladesh is exploring are the use of low-sulfur diesel, the use of compressed natural gas (CNG), and the promotion of hybrid/electric mobility.

Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas, Director (Operation) at BRTA, said the import tax rate had been reduced to encourage the adoption of hybrid cars. Other targeted import policies had resulted in fuel improvements and the uptake of CNG/LPG/LNG vehicles, the promotion of zero-emission electric vehicles, and improved vehicle emissions and consequent improvements in overall air quality.

“Our next steps are to expand policy support for the use of greener vehicles and strengthen logistical support for accompanying refueling/recharging infrastructure,” Mr Biswas said.

Through the support of this project, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities have also been undertaken with the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Automobile Club. Speaking at the workshop, BUET representatives provided a number of policy suggestions to cut emissions, including adopting EURO emission standards as a base for Bangladesh emission norms, introducing low-sulfur diesel on the market following the upgrading of national refinery plants, banning the registration of lower-emission norm vehicles, tax benefits for new completely knocked down (CKD) vehicles, the establishment of a vehicle assembly plant, the introduction of an emissions-dependent road tax policy, and increased tax on reconditioned vehicles.

RHD Chief Engineer Ebne Alam Hasan said the steps that were being taken by the Government of Bangladesh were helping the country achieve its Sustainable Development Goals and its Vision 2041 action plan.

“Bangladesh is pursuing a develop strategy of inclusive growth and development,” he said. “The road sector makes a massive contribution to the country’s GDP growth and the development of an efficient road transport system. The adoption of environmental technology is under consideration. Hopefully what we discuss today will be food for thought.”

The workshop was supported by GFEI, with funding from the European Union.

Workshop presentations:

Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas – Leveraging Vehicle Import Policy Bangladesh to Improve Vehicle Stock

Noor E. Alam – Developing Clean and Efficient Vehicle Policy for Bangladesh

Noor E. Alam – Bangladesh Baseline and Trends

BUET Automobile Club – Clean and Efficient Vehicle Policy for Bangladesh

Kathleen Dematera – Achieving SDGs and Climate Goals Through Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles and Improved Fuel Economy

Alvin Mejia – Policy Options for Improving Vehicle Fuel Economy