TODAY -

Carbon Neutral Journey through e-mobility

Kamal Baruah *



After nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour and argon, carbon dioxide is the fifth most abundant gas in the atmosphere. The availability of atmospheric carbon (mostly in the form of carbon dioxide) reservoir is so small i.e. 0.0391%. But there are very large numbers of carbon in the form of fossil fuels in our earth.

The atmosphere could be easily overwhelmed by all fossil fuel carbon emissions if burn for industrial use. Fortunately the atmosphere is closely coupled to the large reservoir – ocean that stabilise our atmosphere.

Carbon is dominant in Mars and Venus. There is more CO2 in the air than on earth. Thus life does not exist there. While the Earth does have enormous amounts of carbon nearly all of it is tied up in carbonate sediments, coal, and other organic matter, rather than being stored in the atmosphere.

Inhalation of low concentrations of CO2 is not harmful to us but higher concentration can affect our respiratory function. Also it displaces oxygen in the air. The earth is being polluted from emitting CO2 since the mid-18th century Industrial Revolution.

According to the Global Carbon Project, worldwide emissions actually increased at the fastest rate in the past few years. As the number of motor vehicles on roads double every ten years, CO2 emissions are bound to get worse.

Premature deaths are mostly attributable to air pollution from transportation tailpipe emissions. Trees on earth are capable of absorbing carbon from the air. Tree planting can be good for deforested areas but planting trees in natural grasslands can destroy the habitats of plants and animal species.

Also it could not solve the problem for long. Renewable energy is the only solution by solving energy scarcity thereby reducing oil dependency too.

There is a threat of climate change for rising global temperature in this century. Paris Climate Agreement 2015 has been signed by 196 nations under UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for the cause of greenhouse gas emissions mitigations, adaptation and finance.

The world leaders pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 while reducing carbon emission to zero and staying below 2° Celsius rise in global temperature. India has planned a roadmap for energy security and vehicle pollution to shift India’s transition from conventional engines to Electric Vehicles.

Under the scheme “Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of EVs in India” (FAME), it reduces the purchase price of hybrid and EV for public transportation and private two-wheelers. MV (Amendment) Act 2019 is now implemented while pollution check has been made compulsory for all vehicles on the road.

But defaulters are running away as scrappage plan bears no fruit without age limit. The SC has banned the sale and registration of vehicles under BS IV from April 1, 2020. Also it would skip BS V norms altogether and adopt the new BS-VI emission regulations.

Electric Vehicles are vehicles charged from an external electricity sources like electric batteries and combination of batteries and conventional engines called plug-in hybrid EV. EVs can play a role in lowering emissions from transport, as it promises zero tailpipe emissions and a reduction in air pollution in cities.

India’s going electric for a country of 1.3 billion people is not an easy feat. NITI Aayog refused to extend the deadline for three-wheelers after 2023, and for two-wheelers having up to a 150-cc engine after 2025.

With a goal of reaching 30% EV penetration by 2030, FAME will save millions of tonnes of oil and reduce CO2 emissions. Various fiscal demand incentives have been put in place by the government to spur the production and consumption of EVs and charging infrastructure. Manufacturers started investing in R&D for developing battery packs for electric mobility.

China’s initiative towards top selling light-duty plug-in EV in global markets and Norway’s largest sovereign wealth fund could bolster Investment in renewable energy. The land of midnight sun Norway is also the global leader in terms of electric car market share.

However EV market penetration in India is only 1% and they are mostly two/three wheelers. Auto manufacturers are forging partnerships with the government vision. As demand increases corporate/PSUs have big plans to proliferate electric charging stations across the country. Switching over to EV by app based Ola/Uber can make a big role towards implementation. It could also create jobs for battery swapping operators.

Making cars electric aren’t just about technical innovation, it’s also ecosystem innovation. However there are barriers to EV adoption. The world needs electricity to be generated from renewable sources for the adoption of EVs.

Although Coal power is increasingly disregarded for its contribution to harmful emissions, the coal production still increased globally. Coal power is declining in the US with renewable energy Wind power overtaking coal.

So does for UK planning for complete phase out. Chinese pledge brings no fruit as coal production set to increase further. India is home to the world’s largest coal company, Coal India Ltd, where she is the second largest consumer of coal.

Recently India gifts solar panels to UN HQ with an aim to reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy by declaring hash tags ‘ClimateActionNow’ and ‘Equality’. India also committed to generate 100 GW of solar/wind power by 2022 from renewable sources.

At the same time India’s Infosys won the 2019 UN Global Climate Action award for their journey to carbon neutrality India. Their efforts for community offset program help India to reduce firewood consumption at rural communities.

People are freed from dangerous smoke inhalation by using biogas-fuelled cooking and organic farming. Infosys has sought to address global operations by using solar energy while reducing dependence on thermal power.

There are issues like safety, space and consumers’ trust towards conventional engines that runs on the road for many decades. Commuters don’t want to face interruption of charging experience. Also they feel that new technology in the market is available at affordable cost.

The worldwide e-mobility revolution is not possible unless India and China co-operate because its size and scale in EVs. It’s questionable for the plan to shift to electric mobility at a time when the manufacturers were trying to upgrade their models to comply with BS-VI emission norms that probably reflected the recent slowdown of Auto sector.

Also it costs the car industry for replacing conventional internal combustion engines. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 requires unprecedented political will and cooperation but it’s not impossible. These initiatives need stronger national and international climate policies to thrive the world liveable.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a freelance writer based in Guwahati. He is a former Air-warrior with IAF and currently working for SBI
The writer can be reached at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 08 2019.



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