Re­port leads the way to cleaner trans­port

GREEN NEWS/ The Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try has com­piled a study look­ing at cre­at­ing poli­cies for a greener trans­port en­vi­ron­ment, writes Mark Smyth

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Af­ter years of ques­tion­ing ex­actly what is be­ing done to get peo­ple into green ve­hi­cles and pub­lic trans­port so­lu­tions, it seems that the govern­ment has fi­nally wo­ken up.

This week, a re­port com­mis­sioned by the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try came across our desk. Ti­tled Strat­egy for Pol­icy Di­rec­tion: Pro­mot­ing Green Road Trans­port Tech­nolo­gies in SA, the re­port was com­piled by EcoMetrix Africa.

It as­sessed every el­e­ment of what is be­ing done and what is hold­ing things back.

We have been as­sured that the new roadmap has the sup­port of a num­ber of agen­cies, not least of which are the depart­ments of trade and in­dus­try, trans­port and en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs. Cru­cially, it is un­known how much sup­port the Trea­sury is giv­ing the plan, with its sup­port be­ing vi­tal to re­move bar­ri­ers and pro­vide in­cen­tives.

In 2012, the South African govern­ment re­asserted its com­mit­ment to the Global Cli­mate Agree­ment at the COP21 in Paris. Key to achiev­ing the goals of the agree­ment are sig­nif­i­cant changes to trans­porta­tion.

The re­port high­lights the op­tions that can be adopted un­der the ASI (avoid­ing, shift­ing and im­prov­ing) model.

Avoid­ing and shift­ing are about avoid­ing the need to use pri­vate ve­hi­cles through ur­ban de­vel­op­ment in­cor­po­rat­ing res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial ar­eas in close prox­im­ity.

Shift­ing means get­ting peo­ple out of their pri­vate ve­hi­cles and into pub­lic trans­port, but the re­port fo­cuses on im­prov­ing — cre­at­ing poli­cies around elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs), com­pressed nat­u­ral gas and bio­fuel blend­ing.

The re­port states a pol­icy frame­work is needed that cre­ates driv­ers and en­ablers and re­moves bar­ri­ers.

There are few di­rect in­cen­tives to go green.


“A va­ri­ety of gaps and or ar­eas of mis­align­ment ex­ist within leg­is­la­tory frame­work that ham­per growth in the in­dus­try,” the re­port states. It adds that the cur­rent over­all trans­port pol­icy frame­work is geared to­wards the in­cum­bents of diesel and petrol and driven by the road trans­port in­dus­try.

“A level play­ing field, or even a play­ing field pref­er­en­tial to emerg­ing green trans­port tech­nolo­gies, needs to be cre­ated,” the re­port states.

Re­gard­ing EVs, the play­ing field is any­thing but level. Just more than 300 EVs have been sold in SA. An­ti­quated leg­is­la­tion means that EVs from Europe at­tract a higher duty level than most other ve­hi­cles. Of­ten they are placed into the lux­ury ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory. This means they are priced way be­yond com­pa­ra­bly-sized ve­hi­cles.

The re­port reads this is just one area in which peo­ple are dis­in­cen­tivised to go green. Charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture is an­other area that needs to ad­dressed, with few pub­lic charg­ing points avail­able, al­though there are plans by the pri­vate sec­tor to im­prove this sit­u­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly on ma­jor ar­ter­ies such as the N3 be­tween Johannesburg and Dur­ban.

In many other parts of the world, pri­vate motorists and in­dus­try have been en­cour­aged to go green through di­rect and tax in­cen­tives. Some gov­ern­ments pro­vide high re­bates on EVs. SA has no in­cen­tive pro­gramme, making the Trea­sury piv­otal in any plan.

The re­port makes clear rec­om­men­da­tions for all sec­tors of so­ci­ety. It sug­gests that the govern­ment pro­cure more EVs and only pur­chase the top three most fuel-ef­fi­cient mod­els.

It rec­om­mends tax in­cen­tives for those who switch to al­ter­na­tive-fuel ve­hi­cles and em­pha­sises that an­nual ve­hi­cle tax­a­tion should be based on a ve­hi­cle’s emis­sion stan­dard.

It also rec­om­mends at least 10% of pub­lic trans­port bus fleets be con­verted to gas.


At­trac­tive fi­nanc­ing op­tions should be pro­vided to minibus taxi own­ers to con­vert to du­al­fuel ve­hi­cles such as com­pressed nat­u­ral gas (CNG) or liq­ue­fied pe­tro­leum gas.

The re­port also calls for in­cen­tives for the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, in­clud­ing in­cen­tives for those pro­duc­ing EV ve­hi­cles and bat­ter­ies as well as those in­volved in al­ter­na­tive fu­els.

Im­plats and An­glo-Amer­i­can, with var­i­ous agen­cies, are push­ing for SA to be­come a global leader in fuel-cell tech­nol­ogy, mainly be­cause of the coun­try’s strong po­si­tion in the plat­inum in­dus­try, plat­inum be­ing an es­sen­tial com­po­nent in fuel cells.

Fuel com­pa­nies such as Sa­sol are en­cour­aged to in­crease the sup­ply of CNG, but a long­stand­ing stum­bling block re­gard­ing fuel qual­ity ex­ists. The re­port reads that reg­u­la­tions should be cre­ated that force re­finer­ies to meet new stan­dards for cleaner fos­sil fu­els.

It is all well and good look­ing at al­ter­na­tives, but with mil­lions of petrol and diesel ve­hi­cles on the roads, pro­vid­ing cleaner fu­els is es­sen­tial to achiev­ing cli­mate change tar­gets.

A num­ber of projects are un­der way in SA, 18 of which re­late to EVs in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion and charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture, 12 in­volve gas ve­hi­cles and five are bioethanol or biodiesel projects.

Many of th­ese have huge po­ten­tial to change the way green trans­port is viewed. With the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try fi­nally recog­nis­ing bar­ri­ers and work­ing to get all stake­hold­ers to work to­gether, per­haps SA has the po­ten­tial to get on the green road.

High cap­i­tal costs and very lit­tle in­fra­struc­ture are ham­per­ing the up­take of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in SA. Left: Fuel-cell buses are run­ning in many coun­tries and have po­ten­tial in this coun­try.

Com­pa­nies such as Im­plats are look­ing to make SA a global leader in fuel-cell tech­nol­ogy but re­quire a level play­ing field.

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