Bangladesh needs to formulate policies to regulate and promote electric vehicles (EVs) with a view to reducing dependency on fossil fuel-based vehicles to save the environment, said speakers yesterday. The government should offer fiscal and financial incentives to businesses to promote investment in EVs, they said at a dialogue titled “Electric Vehicles and Sustainable Transportation System in Bangladesh”.

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) organised the event at the MCCI conference room in the capital.

Bangladesh needs to promote electric vehicles with standard design, said Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, secretary of the ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The policies should be formulated carefully and comprehensively to regulate and promote the electric vehicles. There is a need for further research on electric vehicles and BUILD, BUET, and other organizations should come together to provide evidence-based inputs to the government on EVs.

The recommendations came in the dialogue can be channeled through the Sustainability and Green Growth Working Committee of BUILD and Private Sector Development Policy Coordination Committee at Prime Minister’s Office said the Secretary.

Countries around the world are transitioning to electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Ferdaus Ara Begum, chief executive officer of the BUILD, while delivering her welcome speech at the event. Bangladesh’s peer countries like China, India and Thailand have already made significant progress in creating the enabling conditions for fast development of EVs. The transport sector accounts for 14 percent of global greenhouse emissions, she said.

In Bangladesh, around 10 lakh EVs are plying in the street, most of which are three-wheelers popularly known as easy bike, said Ehsan-E-Elahi, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Road, Transport and Bridges. “The ministry is now working on formulating a guideline that will allow easy bikes to get registrations.” A delegation will visit India soon to gather experience as the neighbouring country has gone much ahead in this field, Elahi added.

Availability of charging stations is highly important to make EVs popular in Bangladesh, said Md Ziaur Rahman Khan, a professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s electrical and electronic engineering department.

Both fiscal and financial incentives should be offered for EVs to make the environment-friendly vehicles more widespread, said Siddique Zobair, member of the energy efficiency and conservation department of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA).

The government should frame the policy considering two-, three- and four-wheeled EVs, said Matiur Rahman, chairman of Uttara Motors. The batteries used by the easy bikes lose their effectiveness quickly and their indiscriminate disposal is harmful to the environment, he said.

Greenhouse gas emission from the transport sector in Bangladesh will be increased 118 percent by 2030 from the current level, said Md Tahmid Zami, senior research associate of the BUILD, while presenting a keynote paper. But, the country plans to reduce greenhouse emission by 9 percent within 2030. Charging infrastructure, incentives, local manufacture, and so on are key areas where more investments are needed, he added.

Asif Ibrahim, Former Chairman of BUILD and Core Group Member of Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh who moderated the dialogue urged the government to consider EVs for developing a sustainable transportation system considering ecological balance in Dhaka and for the transport sector in Bangladesh.

Representatives BRTA, BITAC, BMW, DOE, MCCI, DCCI, Rahimafrooz and CPD attended the meeting among others.