DECARBONISING TRANSPORTATION SECTOR GS-3 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, CONSERVATION, POLLUTION, DEGRADATION

During the course of COP 26, most important players were unable to focus beyond their individual goals, which explains the reasons why the world has made so little progress on one of the biggest crises of the time, climate change. Changing landscapes in the form of Melting ice caps, flooding in the plains and loss of human lives have become a norm and despite billions of dollars of commitments and technological innovations, no actual progress has been made.

With reference to the transportation sector which is one of the major sectoral contributors in global carbon emitters, little has been pledged to muzzle the exhaust of large car markets. Decarbonisation of the transport sector by 2050 is not just essential but will require a holistic and integrated approach. Innovating technology to create a cleaner road sector is essential, but it needs to be combined with other interventions too.

Global Emissions and Transport Sector

  • Increasing Temperatures: Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5°C and hitting carbon neutrality by 2050 seems to be out of reach as of now. Even many warnings have been issued by the United Nation for rising temperatures that the planet was on a “catastrophic pathway” to 2.7°C of heating, breaking the promise made six years ago.

  • Emissions From Transportation: The transport sector alone is responsible for 1/4 of total  global emissions, out of which road transport accounts for 3/4 of transport emissions (and 15% of total global CO2 emissions). Passenger/ local vehicular pollution are the largest chunk of this, releasing about 45% of CO2.If these trends prevail, annual GHG emissions in 2050 will be 90% higher than those of 2020.

  • Emissions in India: The contribution of the Indian transportation sector to the country’s GHG emissions is about 12% (railways alone accounts for about 4% of GHG emissions). According to the latest estimates, vehicular emissions are also among the fastest-growing  and have almost tripled compared to 1990’s level.

Challenges Associated Curbing Emissions

  • Imcopetent Global Private automobile players: The world’s biggest brands in the automobile sector like Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW and are unlikely to get on board with an emissions pledge of COP26 climate summit because their respective governments are reluctant. Many of the automobile companies don’t even have plans to curb their respective emissions. 

  • Lack of Governmental Accountability: Governments US, China, and Japan who account for three of the world’s biggest automobile markers, and have emissions amounting to 50% of global emission  abstained from taking the pledge. However, India, despite being the 4th largest auto market in the world, joined hands with the coalition along with the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.

  • Under-Reporting of Emissions: UN and other emission monitoring agencies have highlighted under-reporting of GHG emissions. The  huge gap in the data ranges from at least 9.5 billion to as high as 14 billion tonnes a year which is enough to have a meaningful impact on the planet’s temperature.

India’s Initiatives 

  • Forum for Decarbonizing Transport was launched in August 2021 as a part of the NDC-TIA Project for developing a coherent strategy for decarbonising the Indian transport sector which ultimately reduces the emission.

  • The Indian Railways, which accounts for 4% of Indian emissions, also announced that it is likely to become the world’s first railways to attain  ‘net-zero’ carbon emitter by 2030.

  • The Electric vehicles in India got promotions through the FAME Scheme under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and was launched as a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.

  • Under the Produce linked incentive scheme, around Rs.18,000 crore was approved for development of advanced cell chemistry battery storage manufacturing which aims to encourage domestic development of  Electric Vehicles (EVs) so as to cut down their manufacturing cost.

Way Forward

  • Decarbonising India Roads: According to Greenpeace, to reach targets of COP 26, Indian road transportation needs to be entirely decarbonized by 2050. Private sector needs to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles over the next decade to get there.

  • Need of Investments: A handfull number of policymakers are looking for focused solutions but are not getting enough attention or investments. Public capital must assist private investment to priority areas.

  • EVs as Solution: It is equally important to take into account the issues faced in the Electric Vehicles manufacturers. In order to revive the EV sector it’s cost, technology, manufacturing at scale or margins would be a focusing areas.

  • Promotion of greener ways like cycling, walking, work from home culture and public transport coupled with electrification of motor vehicles should be the right strategy for the country to decarbonise Indian roads.

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