Thursday, November 30, 2023

India missing out an immediate solution to vehicular pollution by focussing solely on EVs: IAC


According to a study, vehicular pollution contributes around 28% of total PM 2.5 emissions into the environment.

The Indian government has been focusing on the long-term solutions for vehicular pollution by totally emphasising on electric vehicles. Thus, the country is missing out on low hanging fruit that can bring an immediate difference in air quality by bringing down the vehicular pollution, claims Indian Auto LPG Coalition (IAC)

Indian Auto LPG Coalition is the apex body of auto LPG suppliers in India, has been underlining the need for the central government to incentivise vehicle conversions to auto LPG to be able to leverage an immediate air quality benefit. As the IAC said, in absence of immediately available clean air options, urban India will continue to breathe toxic air for years a large chunk attributed to vehicular pollution.

According to the Indian Auto LPG Coalition, the lack of urgency to respond to air pollution crisis is causing irreparable harm to the health of millions of Indians. In this scenario, incentivising vehicle conversions to clean gaseous fuels can be an immediate solution until battery electric vehicles become commercially viable in the country, claims the IAC.

While Union Minister for road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari has been advocating for the use of cleaner fuel like auto LPG to reduce the vehicular pollution across the country, implementation of favourable policies to boost the usage of auto LPG are inadequate.

As Suyash Gupta said, “Even though the annual stubble burning process impacts Delhi’s air quality most seriously at the onset of winters, truth is that residents of the capital breathe toxic air for the most part of the year. Hazardous vehicular emissions continue to be a major source of poor air quality in urban India. Yet, the fact that policymakers do not display any urgency in addressing the above and focus only on the long-term deployment of EVs is frustrating.”

The IAC says that with a bulk of Delhi’s and most Indian cities’ air pollution woes emanating from vehicular pollution, it is important that well-calibrated near and long term measures are initiated to address this problem. The capital and other polluted Indian cities need to shift a substantial part of their private vehicles to cleaner fuels like auto LPG in the short term until EVs become widely viable.

The national capital undertook a major transformation drive by converting its DTC bus fleet to CNG 20 years back, another similar transformation drive is needed on personal vehicles and cars, says the IAC. It further said the government needs to come up with a policy thrust towards cleaner fuels will also push OEMs towards investing in more Auto LPG variants, offering greater options for consumers.

Total Auto LPG station vehicular pollution

Benefits of auto LPG

Auto LPG is the third most widely used automotive fuel used across the world after petrol and diesel. Auto LPG emits 50% lesser PM than CNG and petrol and 80% lower PM than diesel, resulting in lesser vehicular pollution. Also, the auto LPG comes around 40% cheaper as compared to petrol or diesel.

In terms of fuel efficiency as well, auto LPG leaves behind petrol and diesel. LPG has been classified by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC) for having a global warming potential of zero, implying that it is not a greenhouse gas.

Talking about vehicular pollution’s contribution to the environment, 28% of the total PM 2.5 emissions is attributed to the transport sector.

Vehicular pollution break up:

Vehicle categoryPM 2.5 contribution
Light commercial vehicles (LCV)1%

Auto LPG usage globally and in India

While global transportation energy consumption is still dominated by petrol and diesel, auto LPG has over the past two decades emerged as a viable alternative. Currently, auto LPG is the most popular viable alternative to petrol and diesel for passenger vehicles worldwide. In 2019, demand for auto LPG reached to around 27 million tonnes, almost four times than in 2000.

However, the emergence of auto LPG as the third most popular automotive fuel didn’t happen by chance. The governments across the world made conscious efforts to encourage the usage of auto LPG in a bid to reduce the vehicular pollution in those countries.

Countries like Russia, Turkey, South Korea, Poland and Italy are the most widespread users of auto LPG. On the other hand, countries like Japan, Australia, Mexico and the USA too are furthering the trend by promoting alternative fuel to reduce the menace of vehicular pollution.

Coming to India, auto LPG usage has remained much below to potential. The country consumed 83.5 million tonnes of diesel and 28.3 million tonnes of petrol in 2018-19. On the other hand, consumption of auto LPG in India stood at around 0.42 million tonnes in the same period. Contrastingly, South Korea consumes almost 4 million tonnes of Auto LPG, almost four times than India.

So far, despite being a cheaper and cleaner fuel solution as compared to petrol or diesel, auto LPG is under-utilised in India. Only a small chunk of the country’s total vehicle fleet use the auto LPG as fuel and that too in the urban areas. There are multiple reasons behind this.

Lack of auto LPG refuelling infrastructure, government’s excessive focus on electric vehicles can be blamed behind this. Besides that, higher tax too is another reason. The retro fitment LPG kits draw 28% GST, while the auto LPG is slapped with 18% GST.

Also Read: India must begin transitioning to low carbon fuels right away, auto LPG is way forward

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