Bhutan is a landlocked developing country, located in South Asia. A population of about 779,666 lives in a total area of 38,394 km2, which makes Bhutan’s population density of 20.3 person per km2 (National Statistics Bureau, 2017). Of the total population, urban population comprises of 39% with annual growth rate of 3.2% recorded in 2016 (World bank, 2018). Thimphu is the country’s capital and accounts for over 30% of its urban population. Other larger cities with above 20,000 people are Phuntsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar and Punakha. Bhutan’s economy is based on hydropower, agriculture, and forestry. The country’s GDP per Capita is US$ 2,879.07 and has a GDP growth rate of 7.99% (2016) (National Statistics Bureau, 2017). Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s socio-economic development for the prosperity and happiness of the people in Bhutan, whose main four pillars are:
1. Good governance; 2. Sustainable socio-economic development; 3. Cultural preservation, and 4. Environmental conservation.
Bhutan intents to maintain its carbon neutrality in 2030. It is constitutional mandate to protect 60% of the land as forest area, which currently covers 70% of the country´s land and provides ecological services.
In order to implement mitigation and adaptation plans and actions, it is necessary to understand the country’s main political actors. The National Environment Commission (which also acts as the high level National Climate Change Committee) and Multi-Sectoral Technical Committee on Climate Change plays the lead role in coordinating action on climate change in Bhutan (Royal Government of Bhutan, 2015). The Government of Bhutan has been a constitutional monarchy since July 2008 with a parliamentary form of government. The King of Bhutan is the head-of-state, although its council of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, are mandated with executive pow- er. Bhutan’s Parliament is bicameral in composition, hosting both an upper National Council and a lower National Assembly. The Local Government Act of Bhutan by its parliament, enacted in 2009 and amended in 2014, decentralises the power and authority to local governments. Three administrative divisions exist at the local government: Dzongkhag government (District council) (20 districts in total), Gewog government (Councils) (205 Gewogs in total), and Thromdes (Municipalities). National Council elec- tion was held in April 2018 and the third National As- sembly election will be held in the end of 2018.
With increases in economic growth in Bhu-tan, the vehicular growth is also significantly increasing. Currently, Bhutan has no railways and mode share are buses, taxis and private cars. The rate of motorisation in Bhutan grew about 12% per year during 2008–2012 with an av- erage of about 6,300 newly registered vehicles each year. In 2014, the total number of vehicles registered in Bhutan was 68,744, of which around 38.4% of vehicle registration was in Thimphu Dzongkhag (Zhu, Patella, Steinmetz, & Peamsilpakulchorn, 2016). This increased emission and congestion, and declined air quality. Bhutan’s long-term strategic vision of the development of its transport sector by 2040 is “to provide the entire population with a safe, reliable, affordable, convenient, cost effective and environment-friendly transport system in support of strategies for socio- economic development” (ADB, 2013), guided by the document ‘Bhutan Transport 2040 Integrated Strate- gic Vision’. Bhutan also drafted its ‘National Transport Policy 2017’ to formulate a new transport policy (KPMG, 2017). Bhutan’s INDC further elaborates on its ambitions to promote low carbon system (Royal Government of Bhutan, 2015), which include:
• Improve mass transit and demand side management of personal modes of transport;
• Explore alternative modes of transport to road transport;
• Improve efficiency in freight transport;
• Promote non-motorised transport and non-fossil fuel powered transport such as electric and fuel cell vehicles;
• Improve efficiency and emissions from existing vehicles through standards and capacity building; and
• Promote use of appropriate intelligent transport systems
Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan which is located within an area space of 1,794.87 km2,. A population of 116,012 lives in Thimphu Dzongkhag in 2015 with an estimated population density of 64.6 per km2 (National Statistics Bureau, 2017a) and future projection foresee the city to grow. Thimphu’s households are 100% electrified. 64.3% of Thimphu’s land is covered by the forest (in 2016) (National Statistics Bureau, 2017a), which contributes in net carbon sink. Some of Thimphu’s initiatives on energy generation/conservation, sustainable transport and waste management are discussed below:
Vehicle density is high in urban areas of Bhutan, including Thimphu. The city public transport services (buses) are inadequate so that use of taxis and private modes of transport (private cars and two wheelers) are increasing. Metropolitan areas have typical characteristics of higher incomes, shorter travel times, and more incentives to improve air quality or reduce CO2 emissions, making them more suitable for EV programs. Thimphu has these characteristics, which, along with its mild climate, make it a good pilot area for testing the new EVs and building a foundation for a cost-effective countrywide roll-out (Zhu, Patella, Steinmetz, & Peamsilpakulchorn, 2016). Bhutan plans to make Thimphu - a clean Green Electric city (Tshering, 2014). As of March 2016, 52 Nissan Leaf EVs had been introduced in Bhutan, including 13 for government officials and 39 for general users, most of which in Thimphu (Gross National Happiness Commission, 2016). A quick charging stations on the road between Paro and Thimphu, the two main cities of Bhutan, are available (Tijhuis, n.d.). Moreover, Thimphu municipality plans to build dedicated cycle lanes and tracks around the city, and transforming Thimphu into a bicycle-friendly city (Sundas, 2016).
Bhutan plans to make Thimphu - a clean Green Electric city (Tshering, 2014), along with the aim to achieve zero emissions in the transportation sector. The Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) initiated the introduction of Electric Vehicle (EV) but the market for EVs is still nascent. With increases in economic growth in Bhutan, the vehicular growth is also significantly increasing. Currently, Bhutan has no railways and mode share are buses, taxis and private cars. Vehicle density is high in urban areas of Bhutan, including Thimphu. The city’s public transport services (buses) are inadequate so that use of taxis and private modes of transport (private cars and two wheelers) are increasing. In Thimphu, city buses carry approximately 6,000 passengers per day, while taxis carry approximately 36,000 passengers per day. A“shared ride, fixed individual fare” based taxi is also in use during peak periods. The rate of motorisation inBhutan grew about 12% per year during 2008–2012 with an average of about 6,300 newly registered vehicles each year. In 2014, the total number of vehicles registered in Bhutan was 68,744, of which around 38.4% of vehicle registration was in Thimphu Dzongkhag (Zhu, Patella, Steinmetz, & Peamsilpakulchorn, 2016). This increased emission and congestion, and declined air quality.
Electric Vehicles initiative in Bhutan:
EVs were introduced in the Bhutan’s market (mainly in Thimphu) in 2014 with the support from the government. As of March 2016, 52 Nissan Leaf EVs had been introduced in Bhutan, including 13for government officials and 39 for general users, most of which are in Thimphu (Gross National Happiness Commission, 2016). The number of EVs import is growing. Considering the characteristics of private vehicle owners, EVs are likely to be bought by higher-income households (World Bank 2016). A quick charging stations on the road are available between Paro and Thimphu (the two main cities of Bhutan) (Tijhuis, n.d.)
Access: With an EV policy, Bhutan aims to improve public transport system as well as serve lower-income users who have no other choice than to use public transport. Improved public transport that is designed to connect travelers from their homes to work and community services would be expected to result in a switch from car use to public transport by providing substantial welfare benefits (such as, time savings and affordable) along with significant environmental benefits (Zhu, Patella, Steinmetz, & Peamsilpakulchorn, 2016).