Paving the Way to a Sustainable Future
We all need to be mobile, some of us walk, a few cycle and many use public transport – but an increasing number use private cars. New and improving roads have been the defining strategy for development with the result that private vehicles have exceeded 500,000.
Botswana has the highest rate of vehicle ownership in Africa bar Mauritius. This is not sustainable and the time has come to change course Transport policy has been lacking, although a transport master plan published in 2022 after eight years says little about climate change and does not go into how it aims to mitigate emissions or adapt to more extreme weather nor does it refer to the emission targets set by Government for the United Nations in 2016. This statement is known as the Nationally Determined Contributions or NDC. The statement deposited by Botswana with the IPCC International Pannel on Climate Change promise to reduce emissions to 15 percent lower than those of 2010 by 2030. The plans prepared by the Ministry responsible to transport made no refence to the NDC nor the Governments Climate Change Policy and yet this sector plan was approved by Cabinet.
Rectify the anomaly
Transport accounts for 28 percent of emissions in Botswana and so doing something to reduce this is very important. Recognising this, the Ministry responsible for the environment started work in August to rectify this anomaly. This feature sets out a road map on greening the transport sector that was produced by the author for the Botswana Climate Change Network https://medium.com/@botsccn/botswanas-road-map-for-greening-transport-paving-the-way-to-a-sustainable-future-77cc631a366b The Botswana Climate Change Network (BCCN), as the leading national Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) on climate change, is steadfast in its mission to reshape Botswana’s future.
The strategies for a Greener Tomorrow begin with sustainable transportation and here’s a snapshot of some key approaches. Maximizing online telecommunications to substitute travel wherever possible is clearly the most profound way of reducing the impact of transport. Promoting remote work can significantly cut emissions by reducing the number of vehicles on the road as will promoting online shopping, education and smarter government. Such a strategy will not only be green but will save billions on road building and maintenance. Energy transition to EVs will have very high impact on reducing emission provided the energy is solar not coal generated. The Government set up an eMoblity Group in BITRI to advance the cause of greening transport – it is curious feature of government eMoblity is not under the Ministry responsible for mobility, that is to say MDA for transport. Incentivizing electric vehicle adoption holds the promise of high emissions reduction. EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, offering a green alternative for a cleaner Botswana.
Electric public transport
In the same way promoting electric public transport to electric buses can have a profound impact on emissions reduction. This high-impact solution is crucial for a cleaner urban environment. Indeed promoting public transport is better than encouraging the proliferation of private cars because public transportation is efficient and eco-friendly. Investing in efficient public transport is a medium-impact approach to reduce emissions. It encourages more people to choose mass transit over personal vehicles.
Shaping sustainable cities
Better spatial planning and shaping sustainable cities is vital to reduce travel distances – the lack of concern for efficient spatial planning is costing Botswana billions. Mixed-Use Development and promoting liveable and compact cities should be part of our long-term vision. Other strategies like carpooling and ride-sharing as well as promoting non-motorised transport for shorter trips will also help to green the transport sector. In the “Road Map for Greening Transport,” The author envisions a Botswana where sustainable transportation is the norm. It acknowledges that some solutions offer immediate emission reductions, while others are long-term investments in a brighter future. By blending these diverse approaches, fostering eco-conscious behavior, and supporting innovative technologies, a cleaner, healthier, and more vibrant Botswana is assured.
Green transport issues
Here is a matrix of the road map that outlines the green transport issues, problems, strategies, solutions, and their respective impacts on emissions (high, medium, or low) for each of twenty-five issues that provide the road map for greening the transport sector of Botswana.
|Issue/Problem||Strategy/Solution||Impact on Emissions|
|Travel Demand Management||Promoting carpooling and ride-sharing||Medium|
|Better Spatial Planning||Urban planning to reduce commute distances||Medium|
|Reducing Transport Intensity||Encouraging non-motorized transport||High|
|Maximizing Online Telecommuting||Promoting remote work||High|
|Improving ICV Efficiency||Stricter emissions standards||Medium|
|Reducing Old Imported Vehicles||Implement import regulations||Medium|
|Energy Transition to EVs||Incentivizing electric vehicle adoption||High|
|Mode Change to NMT||Developing walking/cycling infrastructure||Low|
|Public Transportation||Investing in efficient public transit||Medium|
|Carpooling and Ride-Sharing||Encouraging shared mobility||Medium|
|Green Transport Initiatives||Developing sustainable technologies||Medium|
|Smart Traffic Management||Optimizing traffic flow with technology||Medium|
|Urban Greening||Increasing green spaces||Low|
|Eco-Driving Education||Promoting fuel-efficient driving habits||Low|
|Congestion Pricing||Implementing pricing for peak hours||Medium|
|Pedestrian Zones||Creating car-free city centres||Low|
|Electric Public Transport||Transitioning to electric buses||High|
|Alternative Fuels||Promoting CNG, LPG for certain vehicles||Medium|
|Hybrid Vehicles||Encouraging hybrid vehicle adoption||Medium|
|Incentives and Subsidies||Financial incentives for green options||Medium|
|Car-Free Zones||Designating non-motorized vehicle areas||Low|
|Bike Lanes and Walkways||Building dedicated cycling/walking lanes||Low|
|Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure||Building a network of public rapid EV charging stations||High|
|Behavioural Change Campaigns||Promoting eco-friendly choices||Low|
|Mixed-Use Development||Encouraging living closer to work||Low|
For the economically minded, Botswana imports 1.6 Billion litres of fuel costing $1.2 Billion or -7 percent of GDP – gradually as the importation of fuel reduces as the country becomes more self-sufficient in transport energy GDP will increase. In terms of energy, 1.6 billion litres of fuels approximate to 16 billion KWh per year which is equivalent to 1.8 GWh which is three times our current energy consumption of 600 MWh. And for those that care about climate change, 1.6 Billion litres of fuels when combusted produce about 3.8 million tons of CO2 (Assuming 2.4 Kg of CO2 per litre) – which is 1.6 tons of CO2 per person per year. Out of interest coal fired thermal energy, as Morupula, produces 0.9 Ton of CO2 per MWh, so 600 MWh produces 4.7 million tons of CO2 per year or 1.9 tons of CO2 per person. The conversion to EVs from ICVs only makes sense if the energy used is green – such as from solar. Botswana’s per capita CO2 emissions are around four times the average for Africa.
The Ministry responsible for the Environment will be holding a workshop on 30th August to set in motion the steps needed to green transport in Botswana – we can only hope that such plans that have been prepared by the line ministry responsible for transport will be revised to fall into line with climate change ambitions of the Government and the international community to provide a sustainable and healthier future for us all.
If readers would like more information about the work of the BCCN, then contact the authors or log onto https://www.botswanaclimatenetwork.org/