India’s role in the fight against climate change
Mahesh Babu
Read about how EV adoption is key to the fight against climate change, and how India plays a crucial role in that.

This is an excerpt from Mahesh Babu’s speech at the 2019 Oxford Summit.

Last year, when the Paris agreement was signed, the consensus was to limit global warming by greenhouse gases to 2°C. A few months later, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) produced a report saying that 2°C was too high a rise, and human beings should try to limit warming to 1.5°C.

The Paris Agreement makes it clear that the planet must be net neutral by the second half of the century. To start the process of decarbonizing the planet, there needs to be an immediate shift towards incorporating renewable sources of energy and using electric vehicles. Electricity generation and the transport sector contributes 50% and 20% respectively of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world (IPCC: 2014). Industrialized countries have managed to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions but have had very little success with CO2 emissions so far. As long as the world economy is fossil-fuel based, we will not be able to reduce these emissions. A WHO report says that 91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality is very poor and does not meet the criteria set up by the organization.

For India, development is a priority but it has to be achieved keeping sustainability in mind. Thankfully, India’s energy mix has been getting cleaner to cater to the additional energy demand that will arise. Energy consumed per capita in kgs of oil in the US is almost 10 times that of India currently (US – 6804, EU – 3207, India – 637: World Bank). Our country’s commitment of setting up 100 GW solar capacity by 2022 (175 GW total energy from renewable sources) as part of the International solar alliance (Initiated by the government of India along with France) is a testament of India’s focus on moving away from fossil fuel for power to ensure sustainable growth.

The Indian economy is urbanizing rapidly - by 2050, over 400 million Indians will move to urban areas according to the World Bank. By 2030, India will have 7 mega cities with a population of over 7 million.

With the strong demand for mobility that will arise due to rapid urbanization in the future, I believe electric vehicles will play a key role in decarbonizing Indian cities by providing clean mobility solutions. India’s car penetration is just 22 for every 1000 people compared to 980 in the US and 850 in the UK. CO2 emissions per capita in India is around 1.7 metric tonnes today compared to 16.5 metric tonnes in a country like the US (World Bank data). CO2 emissions cannot be sustained if our car penetration reaches US or UK numbers.

India is a unique market for automobiles. It is dominated by 2-wheelers (80%) and 3-wheelers (3%). Adoption of EVs in these segments is going faster than other segments due to lower TCO. India is leading the world in terms of electric 3-wheeler sales (83% of all India EV sales in 2018).

As economic growth fuels demand, mobility for a billion needs a fresh look in India. In order to build the nation responsibly, shared and multi modal electric mobility solutions are the way forward for creating mobility for a billion people. To achieve a cleaner transport sector, a combination of measures needs to be implemented: planned and better-designed cities; non-motorized transport facilities; more public transport; and on-road fleets being converted to all-electric.

Keeping this in mind, the Indian government has already put policies in place to promote the manufacturing and adoption of electric vehicles. India is also committed to reduce its dependency on crude oil and reduce its oil import bill. Skipping BS-V and moving directly to BS-VI is a case in point.

India’s resolve towards sustainable development and commitment towards green mobility options, will make it a key player in the global sustainability playfield. Being one of the largest populations in the world, we are going to hold the key for the fight against climate change.
Mahesh Babu
CEO, Mahindra Electric
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