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Vehicular Emissions in India

  • 12 Jan 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Vehicular Emissions and associated issues

For Mains: Vehicular Emissions and its impact, Steps taken in this direction

Why in News

The annual car sales in India are projected to increase from the current 3.5 million to about 10.5 million — a three times increase — by 2030, which will increase exposure to vehicular exhaust emissions.

  • India is the fifth-largest global car manufacturer with one of the highest compound annual growth rates (10%) of vehicle registration as of 2019.

Key Points

  • Vehicular Emissions in India:
    • Vehicular emission is a major cause of air pollution in urban areas.
    • Typically, vehicular emission contributes 20-30% of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 at the breathing level of air quality.
      • PM2.5 refers to particles that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres (more than 100 times thinner than a human hair) and remain suspended for longer.
    • According to studies, vehicles annually contribute about 290 gigagrams (Gg) of PM2.5.
    • At the same time, around 8% of total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions in India are from the transport sector, and in Delhi, it exceeds 30%.
  • Vehicular Emissions (World):
    • The transport sector accounts for a quarter of total emissions, out of which road transport accounts for three-quarters of transport emissions (and 15% of total global CO2 emissions).
    • Passenger vehicles are the largest chunk of this, releasing about 45% of CO2.
    • If the conditions prevail, annual GHG emissions in 2050 will be 90% higher than those of 2020.
  • Issues in India's Steps towards Reducing Emissions:
    • In India, vehicle technology is changing rapidly with changes in fuel quality, exhaust treatment systems of the Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), electrification of vehicle segments and steps towards hydrogen-powered vehicles.
    • But the current and future batches of ICE vehicles are likely to have a substantial share in on-road fleet till 2040, if not beyond.
    • This not only requires substantial tightening of the emissions standards but also modification of technical parameters for testing of vehicles to reduce the emissions in the real world.
  • Emissions Testing Methods:
    • Most countries have formulated regulations for testing vehicles at the manufacturing end and when in use.
    • The vehicle certification procedures consist of testing engine performance and emission compliance on the engine chassis dynamometer in the laboratory.
    • A drive cycle (a series of continuous data points of speed and time that approximates driving pattern in terms of acceleration, deceleration and idling) is followed to achieve acceptable test results.
      • This is expected to simulate realistic driving intended for the vehicle type that has a bearing on emissions.
  • Testing Methods Formulated by India:
    • The Indian Drive Cycle (IDC) was the first driving cycle formulated for vehicle testing and certification in India based on extensive road tests.
      • The IDC was a short cycle comprising six driving cycle modes of 108 seconds (reflecting a pattern of acceleration, deceleration and idling).
    • But the IDC did not cover all the complex driving conditions that are normally observed on Indian roads.
    • Subsequently, as an improvement over IDC, the Modified Indian Drive Cycle (MIDC) was adopted, which is equivalent to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
      • MIDC accounts for wider speed profiles and is a better-suited cycle than the IDC.
      • MIDC is also significantly close to the idling conditions observed in real-world driving.
    • Despite the improvements, MIDC may still represent vehicular emissions during on-road conditions adequately because of variations in traffic density, land-use patterns, road infrastructure and poor traffic management.
    • It has therefore become necessary to adopt the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedures (WLTP), which is a global harmonised standard for determining the levels of pollutants from ICE and hybrid cars.
  • Measure Emissions in Real World:
    • For the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests, the European Commission, the United States and China suggest that the driving cycles and laboratory tests do not reflect the likely emissions during real driving conditions, which are more complex than laboratory driving cycles.
      • RDE is an independent test to overcome the limitations of WLTP and equivalent laboratory tests. A car is driven on public roads over a wide range of conditions.
    • The International Centre for Automotive Technology in India is currently developing RDE procedures that are likely to come into force in 2023.
      • The RDE cycle must account for conditions prevailing in the country, such as low and high altitudes, year-round temperatures, additional vehicle payload, up and downhill driving, urban and rural roads and highways.

Initiatives to Reduce Emissions in India

  • Shift from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms:
    • Bharat stage (BS) emission standards are laid down by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine and spark-ignition engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
    • The central government has mandated that vehicle makers must manufacture, sell and register only BS-VI (BS6) vehicles from 1st April 2020.
  • Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025:
    • The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022 and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.
  • Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicle (FAME) Scheme:
    • The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments.
    • Two phases of the scheme:
      • Phase I: started in 2015 and was completed on 31st March, 2019
      • Phase II: started from April, 2019, will be completed by 31st March, 2024.
  • National Hydrogen Energy Mission:
    • It aims to cut down carbon emissions and increase the use of renewable sources of energy while aligning India’s efforts with global best practices in technology, policy and regulation.

Source: DTE

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