Across the world, Governments and carmakers are trying to ensure that cars get greener
Ask anyone who loves a car and they will tell you that the noise made by a large engine has no comparison. Something like the ‘Hemi’ VB in the United State, an engine adept at turning fuel into noise. And until the Arab- Israeli War of 1973, people didn’t worry about fuel economy and until the turn of the millennium no-one was really concerned about vehicular pollution. But for the 7 billion humans on earth there are an estimated 4 billion vehicles, and while the internal combustion engine was the original invention that ‘connect- ed people’ these engines are almost certainly killing us. Governments across the world even in countries with a large automotive industry like Germany have realised that this is not sustainable and there has to be a move towards low and zero emissions vehicles. Some countries like Norway, although it has a small population (although enriched by North Sea Brent Crude) have started taxing carbonfuelled vehicles heavily and giving a host of incentives for low- emission vehicles, like lower taxes and free tolls. In India too our policy makers believe that we have to move to a lower vehicular emissions future.
With urban air quality taking a turn for the worse over the past two years, India imports most of its crude with a massive amount of foreign exchange and the fact India has a large automotive industry and it is important for them to keep up with technological change. on the fossil fuel front India has some strict emission norms and the proactive move to Bharat Stage 6 fuel will make a difference. There is also the reality that moving to an electric vehicle future will move pollution from inside the city to outside. But, India should ideally move after low-hanging fruit and that that will be achieved through enforcement. Fuel adulteration and overloaded commercial vehicles lead to additional pollution, at the same time far too many vehicles operate with dysfunctional exhaust catalysts and pollution checks are a joke and despite strictures by the National Green Tribunal, old diesel vehicles operate with impunity even on Delhi rules.
The Indian government has to learn from what other governments have done, to promote lower emissions vehicles. Not just in European nations which give monetary incentives and have built infrastructure. But India has been talking very loudly, with fewer than a hundred charging stations across the country, a total lack of incentives on lower emissions hybrid cars and no move to consolidate the metals and minerals sources that India will need to move to a low emissions future. In this respect they need to look across our eastern border. China has been buying out resources across the world not only to position their move to low-emissions but also to make them a global leader in the space. China has built 200,000 charging stations more than half that number added this year alone.
There are a lot of problems India will face moving to this future but instead of just talking about how difficult it will be and the problem s that we will encounter. Our governments and policy makers need to be proactive, this is a time for decisive action and not just fiery speeches. Because India runs the very real risk of missing the electric bus into the future.