Uruguay has made great efforts within the framework of the "National Energy Policy 2005- 2030", to achieve a clean energy mix: 59% of the global primary energy mix is currently renewable, which accounts for 83% of the total energy of the industrial sector and 93% of power generation (2014). With regard to transport, the use of biodiesel accounts for 7% and bioethanol 10% of the total vehicle fleet, both with total domestic production. Even though a lot of progress has been made in the past few years, there are still many opportunities for action in this sector.
In its NDCs, Uruguay committed to maintain the currently low emission intensity levels in the energy sector, and even achieve an intensity reduction of 25% from 1990 values by 2030, relying on domestic resources, and a potential 40% total reduction depending on the availability of international resources.
Uruguay committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 when compared by base year 1990 in CO2 by 57% in CH4, 48% in N20 (unconditional), and 29% in CO2, 59% in CH4, 52% in N2O (conditional). It also includes specific objectives related to Food Production (beef) and Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). Agriculture is a key part of Uruguay’s economy, representing 70% of all its exports. This sector also contributes to 80% of Uruguay’s GHG emissions, of which 55% are from enteric fermentation. Approximately 65% of Uruguay’s land is covered by natural grasslands and pastureland – sequestering carbon in soils and biomass is done where possible. Reduction in GHG emissions in the agriculture sector is well represented in Uruguay’s NDCs where a clear commitment to adopt to a low-carbon growth agenda with ambitious targets that address both climate change mitigation and adaptation. This intends to sustain Uruguay’s key sector of cattle farming for meat exportation – but evolving into a environmentally responsible meat producer. Uruguay set a specific target in the NDCs submitted to the UNFCCC for the agriculture sector to reduce enteric methane emissions intensity per kilogram of beef (live-weight) by 33% to 46% in 2030 through the widespread application of improved practices and technologies.
Transportation in Uruguay
Uruguay capital city, Montevideo, has been investing heavy in upgrading and evolving its transportation within the city. Montevideo administrators have committed to improve and modernise its public transportation system – especially focussing on electrification and digital transformation.
Because of its small territory and the low level of industrialization, the contribution of Uruguay to the generation of global warming is not significant. It has an economy based primarily on the use of natural resources. Therefore, however, Uruguay's vulnerability to climate change is high. The vulnerability is influenced by certain factors of geography. Part of the country is located on the coast Rio de la Plata, a large natural variability, downstream of a large basin, which is impacted by the activities and efforts carried out in several regions covering the basin. Also subject to the effects of complex ocean- earth-atmosphere system in the Southwest Atlantic, these facts contribute to its natural variability. The sectors most exposed and sensitive to climate change and variability in Uruguay are the water and sewage systems, the power system, transportation and telecommunications, construction materials and recreation spaces, green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and social and health services.Approximately 70% of the population lives in coastal areas. The total population is 3,380,177 inhabitants. The rate of population growth (0.6%) was one of the lowest in the Americas since the 1960s. The area is 175,016 km2, with approximately 140,000 km2 territorial sea, islands and waters of the rivers and lagoons surrounding.
Uruguay has made a structural transformation in its energy matrix, achieving in just 6 years that more than 90% of the energy generated comes from renewable sources. This achievement is based on a State policy initiated in 2010, which, with a medium and long-term vision, has promoted the incorporation of technology and private participation in the energy generation, and has made it possible to invest heavily in infrastructure, including the completion of the international electrical interconnection. In this way, Uruguay is today among the leading world countries in the production of renewable energy sources and has achieved sovereignty, reliability and efficiency in the generation of energy. In addition to the transformation of the energy matrix to renewable sources, the country has the infrastructure of distribution networks and adequate electrical transmission.
Urban transport in Montevideo characterised by a collective of public transport (buses), private vehicles (cars and taxis) and non-motorised modes. The operation of the transportation sector in Montevideo is formalised and highly concentrated – no illegal buses and other transport Montevideo has developed a mobility plan 2020 that seeks to encourage and develop sustainable transportation within the city. Part of this plan is to modernise and upgrade the transportation sector in Montevideo by focussing on digital transformation and electrification of the transport sector. In 2015, Montevideo was characterised as very concentrated and formalised supply of public transport that was provided by five bus companies that served about one million passengers per day. The city’s mobility plan 2008-2020 envisioned a development of a network of segregated bus routes to streamline and rationalise public transport since the city’s transportation system has lacks dedicated infrastructure to give public transport priority over other modes and has not adapted to demand, with over-supply in some areas and poor frequency and coverage in others.
Population growth and mobility is highest in the departments of the periphery of Montevideo (Canelones and San José). These are already accounted for in a third of the total GHG emissions of urban transport in the metropolitan area. The share of GHG emissions in the periphery increased from 82% in 2009 to 86% in 2016. Faced with the absence of additional action, it would be reasonable to assume that CO2 emissions from urban mobility in Montevideo and its Metropolitan area will continue to increase as a result of the following factors:
- Population growth. Although the government expects the population in Montevideo to stabilize in 2018, it is expected that the metropolitan departments of Canelones and San José will continue to grow at annual rates of more than 1%, which would result in average metropolitan growth of 0.4% per year .
- Decentralization. As population growth occurs in areas outside the heart of the city, travel distances are expected to increase, making the population even more dependent on motorized means of transport.
- Economic growth. Although it does so at a lower rate than the peak growth of more than 7% of GDP in 2010, the economy continues to grow at a rate higher than that of the population. The growth of disposable income is usually very correlated with the car ownership rates: the motorization has increased to an average of more than 7% per year between 2005 and 2014. The economic forecast for Uruguay suggests an annual growth rate of 1.6 % in 2017, 2.5% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019.
The vision of the electric mobility strategy in Uruguay is to establish an effective transition towards an urban mobility system that is inclusive, adaptable, efficient and low carbon emissions. This transition will begin in the metropolitan area of Montevideo and should serve as a model for replication in other cities of Uruguay. It is expected that this project will bring direct savings in emissions of at least 114,930 t CO2 in 10 years10 and indirect savings of at least 166,441 t CO2 10 years after the completion of the project.
At present, 24 electric taxis are active in Montevideo. It is expected by 2019 to reach 300, approximately 10% of the current fleet, and also to continue incorporating electric vehicles in the plans to renew the public utility fleet.
Moreover, the Municipality of Montevideo jointly with one of the main urban transport operators, acquired a last generation electric bus that has been incorporated into the operation of the urban public transport system, with the purpose of validating its technical viability.
The next challenges that the strategic plan faces are focused on the potential expansion of the fleet of buses, taxis and utilities. For this purpose, permits for electric taxis will continue to be tendered and specific operational instruments for access to electric vehicles by urban logistics operators will be designed. With the aim of introducing electric buses in urban transport, the MIEM has submitted a request for credit to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), with the objective of leveraging the replacement of 10% of Montevideo's public transport fleet, approximately 120 vehicles.
Finally, a major effort is being made to inform transport operators and the general public about the benefits of electric mobility and the instruments available for this energy transformation. In this framework, with the support of corporate representatives of the main manufacturers of electric vehicles, two electric mobility samples have already been made (MUEVE), where in addition to the informative activities, the driving of the vehicles can also be tested1.