GEF Funds 2 Fuel-Cell Bus Projects to Ease Air Pollution
Both (the fuel cell bus) projects were developed through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). They are the last of five to be undertaken in response to a mandate from the November 2000 GEF Council meeting following discussions on a "GEF Strategy to Develop Fuel-Cell Buses (FCBs) for the Developing World."
Buses are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere
as well as localized air pollution in many developing countries. The vast majority of buses are manufactured for use in these countries. Vehicular traffic in general accounts for some 60% of total air emissions in the world's largest cities. Fuel cells uniquely offer the potential for pollution-free transportation. Accordingly, the major automobile manufacturing companies are making substantial investments in fuel cells for cars. Converting current fleets, comprising mainly diesel buses, to fuel-cell buses can cut down the worldwide release of CO2 by well over a million tons each year.
The GEF strategy for responding to this challenge is consistent with the facility's operational program for Sustainable Transport , which includes support for the commercialization of new technologies of particular benefit to developing countries. Many barriers to the large-scale deployment of FCBs, including their high cost compared to conventional diesel buses, can be reduced through increased public awareness and support and the development of an initial market of sufficient size to encourage developers and manufacturers to increase production levels. The strategy and projects also envision technology transfer through early experience in operating new technology under local conditions.
One of the projects is based in New Delhi, the Indian capital. One of the world's most polluted cities, New Delhi has the largest bus fleet among India's major cities. The importance of reducing pollution from buses was recently recognized by the Supreme Court of India which mandated replacement of the existing bus fleet. The GEF grant will support a five-year demonstration program involving the operation and testing of eight FCBs for public transport in New Delhi. This grant is for $6.28 million dollars. Support from other donors brings the total investment in this project to $12.12 million, with a possible second phase representing $16.1 million.
The other grant, for $5.82 million, goes to China for a $15.93 million project aimed at laying the basis for reducing the cost of fuel-cell buses in Chinese cities. A proposed second phase has an additional budget of $16.4 million. The project will permit the demonstration of FCBs and their fueling infrastructures in Beijing and Shanghai.
GEF and UNDP, in collaboration with the governments of these two cities and the Chinese national government, will help public transit companies in Beijing and Shanghai to obtain six FCBs each and to operate them over a combined distance of 1.6 million kilometers.
Both the Chinese and Indian initiatives provide for significant private-sector involvement and include mechanisms for sustaining the efforts beyond the duration of the GEF projects. In both cases, project designers anticipate that lessons learned during implementation will be used in developing similar initiatives in other cities and countries.
Information about GEF
GEF's First Decade 1991-2001
Following a three-year pilot phase, the Global Environment Facility was formally launched in 1994 to forge cooperation and finance actions addressing four critical threats to the global environment: biodiversity loss, climate change, degradation of international waters, and ozone depletion.
During its first decade, GEF allocated $3 billion, supplemented by more than $8 billion in additional financing, for 800 projects in 160 developing nations and countries with economies in transition. The only new funding source to emerge from the Earth Summit, GEF today counts 168 countries as members.
GEF is the designated financial mechanism for international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent organic pollutants; GEF also supports the work of global agreements to combat desertification and protect international waters and the ozone layer.
GEF projects are executed by a wide range of public and private partners, and managed by the U.N. Development Programme, U.N. Environment Programme, World Bank, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, U.N. Industrial Development Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Inter-American Development Bank.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Hutton G. Archer
Team Leader, External Relations
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
1818 H. Street N.W., Suite G6-150
Washington, DC 20433, USA
Tel: (202) 458-7117
Fax: (202) 522-3240