Sustainable mobility: role of electric vehicles in achieving the SDGs
India steadily walks towards an agenda of sustainable and inclusive development, keeping in mind the demanding demands of its population of one billion people for socio-economic progress. This is in line with the country’s strong commitment to achieving the globally negotiated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India succeeded in decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing the emission intensity of GDP by 24% between 2005 and 2016.
While the emission intensity of GDP has declined, emissions in absolute terms have not, causing widespread warming and a series of negative social and ecological effects. According to an IPCC report, an increase in global temperatures of 1.5 ° C above pre-industrialization levels can lead to dangerous sea level rise and disproportionately affect vulnerable populations through adverse effects on health, loss of livelihoods, as well as economic and insecurity.
India is probably one of the worst affected countries, given its wide coastline, huge population, and high levels of inequality and poverty. Community-driven sustainable development is the need of the hour to tackle climate change and its many threats.
The transport sector
One of the main contributors to the increase in emissions is the country’s transport sector, which accounts for 13.5% of the country’s energy-related CO2 emissions, with road transport accounting for 90% of the country’s final energy consumption. sector.
ICE vehicles, which make up the vast majority of our fleet, are rightly criticized for increasing air pollution, endangering societal health outcomes, and perpetuating use. of fossil fuels, which threatens India’s SDG efforts. Reducing transport-related emissions by adopting clean mobility solutions should be an important part of any sustainable development strategy to tackle climate change and its impacts (SDG 13).
Electric vehicles, a ray of hope
To help India meet its SDGs a strong push towards clean mobility is crucial and here electric vehicles offer a sparkling ray of hope. They eliminate tailpipe emissions, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, improve community health, maintain energy security, and improve employment and development prospects.
Coupling electric mobility objectives with renewable energy objectives will further contribute to the decarbonization of the transport sector. If powered by clean energy sources, electric vehicles can help increase the share of renewables in the energy mix (SDG target 7.2) and help fight air pollution and the effects on human life. associated health (SDG target 3.9). The links don’t end there. With the electric vehicle industry expected to generate 10 million jobs in India, electric vehicle manufacturing can offer job creation, entrepreneurship, formalization and growth of MSMEs (SDG target 8.3).
It can promote sustainable and inclusive industrialization (SDG Target 9.2) and facilitate the integration of small industrial enterprises into value chains and markets (SDG Target 9.3). At the end of their life cycle, batteries can be extracted from precious metals, thus contributing to the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources (SDG Target 12.2). Recycling and proper end-of-life management of used batteries can also significantly reduce waste generation (SDG Target 12.5).
India has taken a number of initiatives to promote the adoption and manufacture of electric vehicles. Notwithstanding these measures, there is still room for further action on this front. The SDGs can once again be our guide, providing principles that can inform policy. Universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services (SDG Target 7.1) should serve as the normative basis for all decision-making related to electric vehicles. India should also commit to providing access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems (SDG Target 11.2) by integrating electric vehicles into all vehicle segments, including buses for public transport without emissions.
Upgrade the infrastructure
The industrial sector can be encouraged to modernize its infrastructure and adopt clean and environmentally friendly technologies (SDG Target 9.4) by electrifying freight transport and adopting electric vehicles for delivery and carpooling. It can further enhance scientific research and enhance technological capabilities (SDG Goal 9.5) to disrupt existing value chains and make India a focal point for electric vehicle manufacturing and related exports.
The SDGs are not just principles to be respected, but promises to our future generations for a safe and secure future. Electric vehicles connected to renewable sources can be a silver bullet that can cover a wide range of SDG targets while remaining aligned with existing measures identified for the country’s own economic recovery.
Much preparatory work has already been done to prioritize this sector and gain the right political support from the government. As experts and policymakers from around the world come together for Transport and Climate Change Week in Berlin, India must affirm its determination to pursue a future of sustainable mobility based on a broader consensus built among nations on the basis of trust. It is high time that electric mobility was made a cornerstone of the country’s sustainable development agenda.
Samantray Senior Manager at the Ola Mobility Institute (OMI), where she leads research and advocacy on electric mobility and energy.
Narain is a Researcher – Electric Mobility and Energy – at the IMO.