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Guest Column

Published on: Dec. 19, 2023, noon
Towards a greener, cleaner future
  • If only EVs were added in India between 2021 and 2022, India would have saved about 9.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions

By Anmol Singh Jaggi. The author is Co-Founder & CEO, BluSmart

India’s journey towards achieving environmental sustainability is a complex and dynamic equation that needs to take into account more than just a few moving parts. The journey towards sustainability has to be transformational, in that it needs to accelerate the changes of decades of existing norms and practices but subtle enough and not disrupt precarious socio-economic balance too much. A little too much focus on either side and the quadruple transition – economic, social, political and environmental – which India is carefully undertaking, can at the least lose its momentum, at the worst lose its way altogether. 

It is for this key reason that India’s shift to a path of sustainability has to identify and select key sectors, where even small and incremental changes have large impacts. Mobility has been identified as one such sector, where small changes like a shift to less carbon emitting vehicles can have a major impact on not only people’s life today, but also on future generations. 

In recent years, more incremental changes have been introduced by state and Central governments to shift towards a future of clean-mobility. The most successful application of this change has been in the consensus that electric vehicles can not only hasten the environmental transition, but keep economic and social transitions in tandem as well.

Electric vehicles have the ability to be aspirational and thereby socio-economically transformative as well. The added macro-economic benefits of lowered import bills, increased future-ready manufacturing and services jobs for a burgeoning demographic dividend and ultimate energy independence, truly makes even a gradual shift to electric mobility extremely impactful in the overall transformation story. 

It is well-known that, in a country like India, vehicle ownership is a sign of prosperity. Ride hailing was able to disrupt this old norm and mentality, giving access to vehicles to almost every income bracket, dismantling the notion that vehicle ownership is mandatory for ease of moving. 

With economic activity more reliant on the ability of people to move easily, safely and efficiently, ride-hailing in itself was a good first step, while electric ride-hailing takes this one step further. The latter marries not only the concept that a vehicle as an asset has more use as a shared commodity, but that sustainability and environment consciousness do not need to be exclusively apart from this concept. 

The impact of this evolution, which has to be said is just beginning, can’t be understated. As is well documented, over the last few years, the worsening air quality in the National Capital has called for a dramatic reduction in the number of vehicles on the roads or a concerted switch to electric vehicles. Electric ride hailing ticks both boxes, encouraging the use of shared assets but shifting to electric mobility altogether.

In fact, a recent study showed that, if only EVs were added in India between 2021 and 2022, India would have saved about 9.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Add that with the potential reduction of one vehicle owned per passenger who used shared mobility services, the impact on the environment and climate change would be phenomenal.

  • Electric mobility and ride hailing, which can be and is increasingly being powered by clean energy, can show that the shift to renewable energy generation does not disrupt or impede daily life

As being discussed in COP 28 and has been in numerous COPs since the monumental Paris Agreement in 2015, the world is looking for innovative solutions that can rapidly transform the negative effects of climate change. India has announced its target is to reduce emissions intensity by 45 per cent by 2030 at this year’s COP 28, while also expressing interest to be the host for COP 33.

The global community has been seeking real-world solutions that are not only doable or viable, but globally equitable, such that they can be adopted not just by the richer countries, but developing ones as well. Electric ride hailing can be one major step in that direction, incorporating the unabated access and aspiration to different modes of mobility without further exacerbating the negative impacts of climate change. 

Finally, solutions that can intertwine various interventions towards mitigating climate change, are those that will have the greatest impact. Electric mobility and ride hailing, which can be and is increasingly being powered by clean energy, can show that the shift to renewable energy generation does not disrupt or impede daily life. In fact, it has the ability to show that a transition to a cleaner future all around is possible easily and without complications, which developing countries like India, have always feared. 

Thus, as a first step towards the globally accepted problem of adverse climate change, electric mobility and its subset of electric ride-hailing is not only a move in the right direction but can have consequential positive effects that can seamlessly help countries and communities transition to a greener, cleaner future. The more this sector is encouraged and invested in, the greater the impact it can have and by doing so, the path towards sustainability is nearly assured.

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