The transportation industry is the backbone of any country. Public transportation becomes even more important, given the accessibility and lower cost attached to it. Imagine even if public transportation stops even for a day, your city may come to a halt because not everyone can afford their private transport. Thus, an efficient transport infrastructure is essential for the functioning of the economy. With rapid industrialisation and increased demands for private transport and traffic congestion, the need to make this industry sustainable has become a pressing concern. And with the world adopting sustainable measures in light of the increasing environmental and climate change concerns, there is a need to build green transportation infrastructure to mitigate these concerns. In this article, we will highlight the need to invest in green transportation infrastructure and how it is important not just from the sustainability angle but also from the economic point of view.
Before jumping right into the details, let us first take a look at the concept of green transportation. In simpler words, green transportation refers to such modes of transport that do not lead to any adverse effects or impacts on the environment. As per many studies and reports, traditional fossil-fuel-based transportation is regarded as one of the chief contributors towards CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. This has led to severe adverse environmental impacts and caused numerous health hazards.
Therefore, environmental enthusiasts have been advocating for the need to pivot towards more sustainable and greener options of transportation. The concept of green transportation has evolved to mitigate these concerns. Essentially, these are those modes of transportation that are powered by renewable resources as opposed to the non-renewable resources that get completely depleted after one use; for instance, electronic vehicles, E-bikes, hybrid vehicles, etc. Let us take a look at some of the viable options:
The advent of electronic vehicles is not recent; however, with the increasing environmental concerns, an attempt has been made to revamp and reintroduce these recently. Based on much research, these electronic vehicles, commonly referred to as EVs, could represent more than 60 per cent of the vehicles on the road. In India, the market size of EVs is expected to reach USD 37.68 billion by 2028. Although it is at an embryonic stage in India’s sustainable development strategy, EVs can play a fundamental role in its shift towards green energy and can help India accomplish its zero emissions target by 2070.
These vehicles use hydrogen as a primary source of energy rather than traditional fuels like petrol, diesel, etc. You may not come across a lot of these currently on the roads; however, they offer a range of benefits such as increased range & mileage, zero carbon emissions and ease of refuelling. They only produce water while driving and are, therefore, completely harmless to our ecosystems and overall environment. The only concern is that the hydrogen fuel-cell technology is still nascent and is still at a budding stage in India, and the industry requires a lot of work because this can become a practical reality.
Hybrid vehicles are known to be more fuel efficient than traditional fuel-based vehicles due to factors like weight reduction, smaller engines, etc. They are unique because it has both the traditional combustion engine as well as electric motors and a battery pack, due to which their Co2 and GHG emissions are low and thus a greener option that is not only environment-friendly but also has a lesser operational cost associated with it. Big guns like Honda, Maruti and Honda have also entered the domain of hybrid vehicles, as the market is expected to grow at 21.6 per cent between 2023 and 2033.
One may wonder that the transport industry has been working just fine and has been generating increased revenue every year, creating thousands of employment opportunities as well as contributing towards the economic development of the country; then, what is the need to pivot towards green transportation infrastructure? Well, there are several reasons that necessitate this shift towards greener and cleaner modes of transport because of the following reasons:
Multiple reports have supported this fact that currently, road transport is responsible for 12 per cent of the energy-related Co2 emissions in India, and it is expected the same could peak by 2040 and double by 2050. The rapid urbanisation and increased use of private vehicles and transport. On the other hand, our government has announced to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2070. So, there is an urgent need to shift towards cleaner modes of transport, and thus, the government has been taking measures to invest in green transportation infrastructure to achieve its carbon targets and attain sustainability.
Apart from the CO2 emissions, yet another concern is the GHGs, i.e., the greenhouse gasses emissions which are responsible for causing global warming and thereby causing climate change. India’s transport industry is one of the largest consumers of liquid fuels, which, along with CO2, leads to the emission of GHGs. As per a report published by the Financial Express, India’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 4.2 per cent, which is quite alarming.
With 7 billion on this planet, the demand for resources is bound to increase. The traditional transportation modes are notorious for depleting resources like oil, petroleum, diesel, gas, etc., as they are non-renewable. Consequently, these resources are getting depleted at a faster pace than they are being restored, and factors like population increase, urbanisation, etc., often lead to overconsumption of these natural resources. Therefore, to meet the growing demands of people, it is only justifiable that we move towards renewable and sustainable options like investing in green transportation infrastructure.
It is known that 80 per cent of India’s requirement for petroleum is met by imports, which is only likely to increase if we continue to rely on conventional petroleum-based modes of transport. This leads to higher prices of fossil fuels, making transportation even costlier. These rising prices then affect the ownership and operational cost of transportation and, ultimately, the profitability; therefore, opting for an alternative fuel which is more cost-efficient and sustainable at the same time will be ideal.
Apart from these, there are multiple other reasons which highlight the need to switch towards adopting green transportation infrastructure because of the benefits they offer.
There are numerous advantages of investing in green transportation infrastructure, such as:
The carbon footprint of the transportation sector is skyrocketing, and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the transportation sector causes around one-fourth of the greenhouse gas emissions.
The sector is not just actively polluting the environment and is playing a major role in causing climate change, but is also responsible for the depletion of resources. As per the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), the transport sector alone consumes 64 per cent of the global oil supply and is responsible for 23 per cent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.
However, investing in green transportation infrastructure is not only about the environment and the climate; it is also lucrative from the cost perspective. Solutions like APM, i.e., Asset Performance Monitoring and EAM, i.e., Enterprise Asset Management, have been widely adopted to ensure that assets run efficiently as these help the enterprises to measure their fuel consumption, which is essential for optimisation.
The traditional fuel-based combustion engines, which have been used for decades, are considered outdated and inefficient now due to the high maintenance costs and shorter life spans associated with them. Switching to more sustainable and greener options of transportation allows for the adoption of best practices, using advanced technologies and innovation, leading to reduced long-term costs and increased reliability at the same time.
Source: WWF India
The demand for green transportation has been increasing worldwide. The concept emerged in the 1990s and has been growing exponentially since then. Particularly in India, the sector has been growing tremendously every year and is still far from meeting the mobility demands. It is well known that the transport industry plays a vital role in contributing towards the GDP of the economy and is essential for the working of the economy as the same is responsible for connectivity and integration. This shift towards green transportation infrastructure is not just meant for positive environmental impacts but is also to increase economic viability.
The Indian transport sector is the second fastest-growing market, and as per the reports of the Indian Transport Portal, it has witnessed a growth of around 30 per cent over a decade. The government of India is keen on utilising this growth opportunity by electrification of this industry and has been encouraging people to switch to eco-friendly hybrid or electric vehicles by implementing various initiatives for the development of green transportation infrastructure. This has enticed many businesses, enterprises and even the general public to shift towards cleaner, greener and newer technologies.
Due to rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and economic development in the country, the population is also growing at a fast pace and is expected to reach around 825 million in 2051. All this necessitates an efficient and sustainable transportation infrastructure to ensure proper mobility. Therefore, to meet these demands and with an objective to develop a roadmap for sustainable development, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has launched many initiatives and schemes to boost the growth of green transportation infrastructure, some of which are:
GUTS, i.e., the Green Urban Transport Scheme, which was launched by the government with an intention to invest Rs. 25,000/- crores to enhance the green transportation infrastructure. This was brought with the objective of encouraging private investments in sustainable transport systems across urban areas in the nation. The scheme aims to procure public around 20,000 buses with clean fuel, and an outlay of Rs. 15,000 crores have been laid out for the same. The idea is to basically give an impetus to green mobility and facilitate retrofitting modes of transport for cleaner and more efficient fuels. The scheme has been introduced.
Another essential initiative taken by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is the declaration of Green Highway Policy 2015 with an aim to develop eco-friendly national highways by constructing green corridors along with them to provide a natural sink for air pollution. The main idea behind this policy was to promote greening and the development of environmentally friendly highway corridors across the country.
In order to promote the adaptability of electronic vehicles, the government has been taking proactive measures by introducing various subsidies to encourage buyers to go for greener options like EVs (Electronic Vehicles) by lowering the upfront cost to make them affordable and paying the price difference directly to the consumers. These measures are essential to bring a change in consumer behaviour, as people are heavily dependent on the traditional modes and may be unwilling to switch to cleaner or greener options as they might view this as an unnecessary additional cost; therefore, these subsidies can ease the consumer burden thereby incentivising them to switch!
In yet another scheme called Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles, popularly known as FAME India, the government has pledged to attain 100 per cent electric mobility by 2030, and crores of rupees have been invested to create demands for electronic vehicles in India. The scheme essentially has its attention on the electrification of public transportation and the creation of electric charging infrastructure.
|S. No.||Type of Wheeler||Registered and Revalidated Models||Registered OEMs||Total no. of Vehicles sold under FAME-II as on 21.07.2023|
As we discussed, an effective transportation system is critical for the proper working of an economy; however, it can produce alarmingly adverse effects on our environment and, consequently, on our health. Other than that, they are also essential to achieve the objectives of reduced energy consumption, preventing the depletion of resources, decreasing our over-dependence on non-renewable resources, and ultimately reducing the operational costs and increasing the efficiency of modes of transportation. Therefore, investing in Green Transportation Infrastructure is essentially a low-carbon initiative that will be critical for the country to achieve its net zero carbon emissions by 2050; in addition, it is an ideal solution to ease traffic congestion and solve all urban and environment-related problems. Therefore, enterprises looking for an opportunity to invest in the green transportation infrastructure in India have a unique opportunity to enter this thriving industry and enjoy the returns of this rising market.
Green transportation, commonly referred to as sustainable transport, essentially refers to those modes of transportation that do not have any adverse effect on the environment because these modes rely on renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy, hydroelectric, etc.
Green transportation can either be private, like a hybrid car, an electronic vehicle which runs on batteries or fuel cells instead of fossil fuels or an E-bike) or public transit (like an electric city bus).
As per the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), the transport sector alone is responsible for 23 per cent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.
There is no denying that an efficient transportation sector is essential for the functioning of the economy; however, the emissions from the burning of fossil-derived fuels degrade the air quality, cause noise pollution and adversely affect our ecosystem in multiple ways, thereby polluting the environment and causing climate change as well.
Another famous term used for green transportation is Sustainable Transportation, which comprises modes of transportation that do not rely on depleting non-renewable resources and instead make sustainable use of renewable resources.
Green Transportation is necessary for the various benefits it offers, such as reducing the carbon footprint and thereby reducing environmental pollution, mitigating climate change, and reducing the overall adverse effects caused by the emissions from the transport. It is cost-effective and energy-efficient as well.
There are various challenges faced while working on the green transportation infrastructure, some of which are lack of charging infrastructure, long time taken for fuel refilling, the limited range offered by these green modes of transport, high upfront costs, etc.
Various green technologies have been adopted in the transportation sector; some of the most prominent examples are electric vehicles that tend to run on battery or fuel cells, Hydrogen Vehicles, vehicles running on renewable sources of energy like solar energy, wind energy, Hybrid Vehicles that comprise both the electric battery and the conventional fuel-based engine, etc.
As per a report published by the Financial Express, India’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 4.2 per cent, which is quite alarming. Therefore, transportation is one of the chief contributors to CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases that are responsible for causing global warming and thereby causing climate change.
The most sustainable transportation in India is in Kerala, which has been awarded the ‘city with the most sustainable transport system’. Projects like Kochi Metro, Water Metro and e-mobility have contributed towards building a green transportation infrastructure in the state.