In cooperation with the Ministries of Environment, and of Energy and Water, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the School of Engineering of the Lebanese American University, the "Road to Sustainable Mobility" was launched at the Lebanese American University (LAU).
The conference was inaugurated by Dr. Raymond Ghajjar, the representative of the Lebanese American University and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering who spoke about the suffering of the Lebanese from the transport and traffic issues faced on a daily basis. He went on to present its impact on the environment and economy; and considered that this is a great opportunity for the Lebanese to benefit from advanced technology in mobility.
In his turn, the Minister of Environment, H.E. Mr. Fady Jreissati stressed the commitment of the government to work for a better environment. He pointed out that the reduction of customs on imported electric cars was aimed at encouraging citizens to purchase environmentally friendly cars and in compliance with Lebanon's international obligations in the field of environmental protection and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
The UNDP Resident Representative a.i Ms. Celine Moyroud stressed on the need to build partnerships between the government, private sector, UNDP, and academia to guide policy and promote the most appropriate technologies and policies for the country.
The second session started with a speech by Mr. Michel-Ange Medlej, the representative of the Minister of Energy and Water, H.E. Ms. Nada Bustani, where the importance of the conference was stressed. He outlined the institutional, financial and technical challenges that Lebanon is facing in the energy sector, however work is under way to address this situation. The Minister’s remarks urged cooperation and partnerships for a better world.
While fuel-based vehicles are going to remain on the roads for many years to come, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric-powered cars are steadily gaining market shares. With the success of Tesla, many other major car manufacturers, are bringing their own versions of hybrid and electric.
The conference highlighted through its 3 panels one important point: Changes is coming, it is inevitable, and the country has to be ready. The market is currently ready for hybrid cars, and the financial incentives are already present. The technology has proven to be cleaner, cheaper and widely available in Lebanon. Plug-in Hybrid and Electric vehicles are on the menu for the near future, especially with the expected reduction in prices due to technology advancement and innovation in batteries.
One of the main takeaway messages from the conference is that E-vehicles will only be the cleaner option with the improvement of the fuel mix used for electricity generation. With the future arrival of natural gas and the increase in the share of renewable energy in the mix according to Lebanon’s Nationally Determined Contribution, the shift to e-mobility will become more viable.
Finally, the main recommendations that sprung from the 5-hours discussion revolved around 1) the development of appropriate standards and regulations such as tariff restructuring, upgrade of the grid infrastructure, EDL arrangements for charging stations and standards for real estate developers, 2) the design of appropriate incentives schemes along the value chain, 3) the establishment of solid partnerships between all actors of the EV ecosystem and 4) raise awareness to students, technicians and the general public.