Just as we were wrapping up this edition of Auto Tech Review, came the American President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, a broad consensus that about 195 countries had arrived at in 2015 to legally ratify action to lower emissions through the United Nations Framework Convention. In protest, a few leaders on board Trump’s advisory council decided to exit, including Elon Musk, Co-founder, CEO and Chairman, Tesla Motors.
There is proof beyond doubt that climate change is for real and that global warming is increasing at an alarming pace. Urgent steps must be taken to protect the environment from further damage. Like governments, automakers too are aware of this lurking danger and are committed to making a change. GM, Ford and many others have reiterated their deep commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their vehicles and facilities.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that 80 % of the current world energy consumption is based on fossil fuels, while CO2 emissions top 32 bn tonne. In Paris two years back, leaders aimed to limit the long-term rise in average world temperature to 2° C. That would not be easy to achieve unless drastic and difficult measures are initiated.
A signatory to the Paris Agreement, India too is committed to meeting the climate change goals. Recently, the government announced its plans to allow sale of only electric vehicles in the country by 2030. Considering, we don’t have much of a foundation to build upon, this is going to be an exercise of massive proportions to end the country’s dependence on fossil fuels entirely in the next 13 years!
India today is the world’s third-largest oil importer with a net burden of $ 150 bn annually. The government believes a shift to all-electric would save the country $ 60 bn in energy costs by 2030. But building an ecosystem that supports an all-electric transportation sector in the country would call for monumental amount of investment, by the government, the auto sector and other stakeholders.
Although not impossible, meeting this target would require confluence of multiple stakeholders with diversified interests to agree to a unified goal. How that is achieved is what we’d have to wait and see.
Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
New Delhi, June 2017