Electric vehicles will change the face of cities. Just ask the city of Dundee, Scotland. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

The former industrial town of 150,000 has invested £7m in charging stations.

As world leaders hammered out the final details of a new action plan to tackle climate change at COP26 in Glasgow in November, the nearby Scottish city of Dundee has provided a glimpse of what a zero-emissions future might look like.

Dundee bought six electric bin lorries and then held a competition for schoolchildren to give them electricity-related names.

Dundee, a city of 150,000 about 100 miles northeast of Glasgow, was once an industrial town and has successfully transformed itself into a hub for tech start-ups and medical research.

Today, it has completed a quarter of the conversion of its 180 municipal fleet, from bin lorries and street sweepers, to vans and cars, to zero-emission vehicles.

Dundee has also invested more than £3.8 million in electric vehicle charging stations at strategic locations across the city.

Infrastructure has to come in before people can start buying.

While Electric Vehicle chargers can be large and bulky, many of Dundee’s charging stations are unobtrusive.

In a car park next to the River Tay, the chargers are embedded in the concrete on the side of the road, flush with the footpath; they pop up when drivers stop and activate them via a phone app.

If cities decide to accelerate the transition to electric, charging stations must be where people park — not just in their homes.

You have to plan and understand what you want a city to look like in 20 years, where do you need vehicles to move, where do you want taxis to be.

Dundee’s experience trying to lay the groundwork for the rise of electric vehicles reflects the thinking behind the Glasgow Declaration on zero-emission cars and vans signed at COP26.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) meets annually and is the global decision-making body established in the early 1990s to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent climate agreements.

According to the agreement, more than 100 countries, cities, rental companies and automakers have agreed to work towards a 2040 deadline to completely stop the sale of diesel or petrol vehicles.

The pledge is designed to signal to consumers, governments, municipalities and the private sector that the electric vehicle revolution is here, and that major investments in the infrastructure needed to support it are long overdue.

This is how you build critical mass momentum. This is how you encourage others who are hesitant to join that sort of commitment.

Advocates for a low-emissions future say Dundee’s experience shows why it’s crucial for towns and cities to buy electric vehicles for their fleets: they set about building critical Electric Vehicle infrastructure.

£40 trillion will be invested globally between 2016 and 2030 to get our transport system on track.

Renewable energy is only responsible for powering 4% of global transportation.

For this number to actually increase, governments need to shift subsidies received by fossil fuel companies into electricity infrastructure.

Maybe the economics wouldn’t be so tricky if we moved all the fossil fuel subsidies that the transportation sector is currently experiencing to other ways to move our fleets.

The European Union has set a tentative date of 2035 for phasing out its petrol and diesel-powered cars.

The UK, which hosted COP26, announced an earlier deadline of 2030.

The UK government estimates that 250,000 charging stations will be needed across the country – 10 times the current number – to cope with the expected surge in electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

It has set aside £1.3bn over the next three years to try to build capacity quickly.

Still, at COP26, the vision for a zero-emission vehicle future was far from agreed.

Large German and Japanese carmakers, including Volkswagen and Toyota, did not sign the Glasgow Declaration.

Neither did the US or China, the world’s largest auto markets.

Auto industry representatives said they were concerned about signing the pledge without knowing whether the infrastructure was ready.

The earliest mentions of the town of Dundee date back to the late 12th or early 13th century. Dundee was created as a city in 1892 and a self-governing county in 1894. Dundee’s fishing has been important from the early days, with one of Scotland’s largest whaling fleets setting sail from there.

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Electric vehicles will change the face of cities. Just ask Dundee.
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