Clearing the air

New Delhi (IANSlife) The internal combustion engine was invented in the 19th century and has since then remained the most commonly used steam-power mechanism for vehicles. Although these engines, recreated over the years by different Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), literally moved the world, but with some costs. According to available data, transport is responsible for about 20% of global Carbon dioxide emissions. This makes it a huge challenge for urban, industrialised cities to deal with pollution.

Delhi-NCR’s estimated population of 32 million makes it one of India’s largest territories. Beyond that, it is one of India’s fastest growing urban territories with millions of personal and commercial vehicles running several miles daily. The consequence of this is rapid emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) like CO2 which pollutes the air and negatively affects the city’s air quality. With electric vehicles now becoming mainstream, there is wide optimism that air pollution can be reduced significantly.

Air Quality in New Delhi and the place of EVs

As one of India’s most boisterous cities, Delhi NCR is a beehive of activities. The city’s current PM 2.5 concentration is nearly 7 times higher than the recommended limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 24 hr air quality guidelines. Hence, the city’s air is largely polluted and needs some respite. The notorious lung cancer-causing pollutant has reached a severe category. In fact, some reports suggest roughly 30,000 Delhiites die from air pollution yearly.

Vehicles emissions and crop burning in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the two main causes of this high level of pollution. In fact, New Delhi had the title of the world’s most polluted capital in the most part of 2022, according to media reports. The situation was so dire to the extent that the city’s population were literally breathing smoke for many days. As a major contributor to this crisis, a gradual phasing out of fossil-powered engines through the adoption of more EVs is one way to tackle the menace.

The proliferation of EVs in Delhi NCR for improved air quality

India seems poised to transform its energy mix into one that is largely renewable, safe, cost effective, and sustainable. This informs the intentional steps taken by governments at all levels, as well as the determination of private sector players to develop the EV sector. As the national capital, New Delhi is expected to play a leading role in that quest and revamp the transport sector into an environmentally-friendly ecosystem. The region ranks in the top 4 of EV adoption among states and territories in India.

The FAME 1 and 2 interventions by the government has certainly helped to incentivise the adoption of EVs in the state. However, the determination of Delhiites to embrace this change is a factor that must be recognised, coupled with the capacity and dexterity of manufacturers of EVs and EV charging companies. EVs do not have combustion engines and do not use fossil fuels which release CO2 and other harmful gasses when burned. This is what makes them a clean alternative capable of reducing pollution in New Delhi.

EVs and Air Quality: Establishing a link

Pure electric cars, e-wheelers, and electric two-wheelers do not possess any tailpipes. Hence, they do not emit CO2 or other GHGs. On the other hand, gasolineā€burning cars come with a tailpipe to allow for CO2 emissions. It only makes sense that more adoption of EVs in a highly polluted city like New Delhi will lead to cleaner air and generally improved public health. CO2 poisoning is still a major public health crisis, coupled with complications around the lungs.

It is imperative to underscore the burgeoning relationship between EVs and public health and take meaningful actions to safeguard the health of people. What is required is a more favourable environment for players in the EV sector to thrive, increased incentives for operators, and more investments in complementary sectors like charging stations, and so on.

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