World EV Day: Role of EVs and decarbonisation in path to Net Zero


This article has been authored by Anup Garg, founder and director, World of Circular Economy (WOCE)
Amongst India’s five climate targets at COP26 Summit last year in November, Prime Minister Modi vowed for reducing 1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions and emissions intensity of the GDP by 45%, by 2030. This implies a clear path for India to follow, whether it is about the inter-sectoral contributions of states or different industries and businesses or bringing a behavioral change at the individual as well as institutional level.
The climate targets indicate our country’s serious intent, which implies transformative actions in the energy sector, for it contributes three-quarters of the country’s greenhouse (GHG) emissions, out of which 93 percent are CO2 emissions.

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What we should be doing?
The adoption of renewable sources of energy will prove beneficial here. Besides, new energy storage solutions and technologies could bring stability and flexibility to the grid. So, collaborations for investing in R&D of new technologies are important here.
Narrowing down further, one of the primary sources of emissions in India is the transportation industry. Without immediate electrification of vehicle fleets, transport-related emissions would multiply by 2050, extending irreversible damage to the climate.
Thus, developing an EV ecosystem is important with critical interventions, including,
– charging infrastructure across public places, corporate offices, and national highways,
– renewable energy-powered EV charging,
– electrification of last-mile connectivity, and most importantly,
– creating awareness about one’s responsibility towards the damage that one causes to the environment knowingly or unknowingly, which must be captured, calculated, and offset.
World EV Day falls on September 9 every year, marking the celebration of e-mobility. This World EV Day, it is important for all stakeholders of the industry in India to reinforce and consolidate their commitment to sustainability in general and sustainable mobility, in particular. So let’s see how we can walk the talk, beginning with the origin of EVs and ending with the idea is to have sustainable mobility by 2030 and a Net-zero emission future by 2070.

EVs: From origin to present date
The origin of EVs date back to the 1830s. The first battery-powered EV was built in 1834, about 50 years before the first petrol-powered internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV). But electric vehicles were succeeded soon by internal-combustion-engine vehicles (ICEVs) as EVs could not keep up with them, for they were cheaper, faster, and run longer. But in the 1990s, owing to the development of energy-dense and lightweight lithium-ion batteries, EVs bounced back to life again.
The lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology has evolved significantly over the years and continues to advance rapidly. Over the past decade, the price of LIBs has decreased significantly from USD 1100/kWh to about USD 150/kWh and is projected to cost USD 100/kWh circa by 2030. In addition, more recently developed ‘extreme fast charging’ technology promises to decrease the charging time for a 320 km drive to as little as 10 minutes, prompting an accelerated adoption of electric cars.
Despite reasonable benefits and an optimistic growth outlook, EVs face some crucial challenges. Amongst these various reasons, the first is affordability. Electric cars are more expensive than their fossil-fueled counterparts. So, it is not surprising that the majority of electric cars are sold in countries with high GDP. Apart from China, most EV sales are reported in OECD countries. Even within the EU, 85% of sales are in only six western European countries.
The second is the charging infrastructure. The third is clean energy, i.e., energy production must be free of fossil fuels for EVs to run truly emission-free. Fourth is the challenge related to material resources. Though EVs are free of tailpipe pollution and can run on green energy, their production accounts for a significant share of their total lifecycle environmental impacts. And, this is primarily due to the material resources used in EV batteries, which demand more effort to extract. Thus, it is critical to creating a circular system to promote the reuse and recycling of EV batteries.
Opportunities from behavioural change
Despite the stated challenges, it is reasonable to say India has been realistic in its net-zero journey and has promised to cut its emissions to net zero by 2070. While the 2070 net zero targets may have disappointed activists and experts in Glasgow, it is still a bold step for a country like India as currently, coal accounts for more than 70% of the power generation in India.
India is the world’s 4th biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US, and the EU, however, it is important to note that its per capita emission is much lower than other major world economies (US: 15.5, China:8.1, EU:6.5 & India:1.9 tones).
While India stands committed to adding 500 GW of non-fossil energy capacity by 2030, our Prime Minister has urged fellow world leaders to underline the need for lifestyle and behavioural changes as the greatest solution to climate change. Given India’s population, if every individual can make subtle changes to their lifestyles, then together, we can make a bigger impact and can help accelerate India’s journey to net zero.
Transportation is the fastest-growing major contributor to global climate change, accounting for 23% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But merely EV percolation won’t help alone. Masses must start thinking of their responsibility toward the environment and take action accordingly.
For example, a non-vegetarian diet would produce 2.5 times more emissions compared to a vegetarian diet. Using more public transport or carpools can help reduce individual carbon footprint. Buying more sustainable products such as avoiding plastic could be some simple steps, to begin with.
Capture-Offset carbon footprint
There is a dire need to create awareness about the availability of tools and solutions that can capture carbon footprint and help individuals to become responsible. The availability of apps (like Carbon Book app, which is currently available on iOS version only; soon to be launched on Android as well) and technologies that could enable individuals to track emission savings by switching to EV vehicles (both personal and public transport), help them locate the nearest EV charging facility, and extend marketplace partnership with EV industry vendors, can prove to be catalysts in the decarbonisation targets of the nation.
The philosophy of “What cannot be measured, cannot be managed”, is important to understand, if India wants to achieve a net zero future. It is vital to shift the behaviour of people/organisation so that they take responsibility for their actions, which cause harm to the ecosystem, by capturing and calculating carbon emissions and offsetting them with small initiatives like travelling in an EV, minimising electricity usage, planting trees or investing in green projects, etc. The tools that measure carbon emissions could be the beginning of the process to change the mindset and bring consciousness that sustainability is not an option but will be a way of life that we all will lead.
Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not represent any of The Times Group or its employees.





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