Ban on diesel vehicles by 2027: Reasoning and Challenges – Explained, pointwise

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As environmental concerns take centre stage, India contemplates a significant shift in its automotive industry. A government panel, the Energy Transition Advisory Committee (ETAC), recommends a ban on diesel vehicles in cities with a population of over a million by 2027.

This bold step aims to curb emissions and promote a transition to electric and gas-fueled vehicles. However, the proposed ban brings its own set of challenges, from upsetting the automotive industry to disrupting public transport and logistics.  

What are the recommendations of the Indian government panel to Ban on diesel vehicles?

Ban on diesel vehicles by 2027: Reasoning and Challenges
Source: The Hindu

Ban on Diesel Vehicles in Major Cities: The panel recommends banning the use of diesel-based four-wheeler vehicles by 2027 in cities with a population of over a million (10 lakh) and in polluted towns.  

Transition to Electric and Gas Vehicles: They proposed a transition to electric and gas-fuelled vehicles in such places to reduce emissions.  

No New Diesel Buses: The committee suggests that by 2030, no city buses should be added which are not electric, and diesel buses for city transport should not be added from 2024 onwards.  

Promotion of Electric Vehicles (EVs): The panel advises the government to extend the incentives under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles scheme (FAME) beyond March 2024 to promote the use of EVs.  

Increase Use of Railways and Gas-Powered Trucks: The panel also recommends ramping up the use of railways and gas-powered trucks for transporting cargo.  

These recommendations aim to help the Indian government reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing 40% of its electricity from renewables to meet its 2070 net zero goal.  

What is the rationale behind the recommendation to Ban on diesel vehicles?

Environmental Impact: A shift to electric and gas-powered vehicles would likely result in significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, which is a major issue in many Indian cities. This could improve public health and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.  

Health Concerns: Diesel vehicles contribute significantly to air pollution. They emit higher levels of particulate matter (PM) and noxious gases, which can lead to severe health issues like heart and lung diseases. For instance, the Automotive Research Association of India reported that the transport sector contributes up to 20% of the PM 2.5 emissions, a key air pollutant.  

Alignment with Global Trends: Many countries are moving towards cleaner energy sources for transportation to meet their climate goals. Banning diesel vehicles aligns India with these global trends. For example, European countries like France and the UK have already announced plans to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles in the coming years.  

Fostering Clean Technology: Banning diesel vehicles can stimulate the development and adoption of cleaner technologies, such as electric and hybrid vehicles. Such as, with a clear end date for diesel vehicles, automakers would be incentivized to invest more in developing and improving electric vehicle technology.  

Read more: India to work towards zero-emission cars by 2040

What are the other countries which are looking to ban diesel vehicles?

Many countries around the world have announced plans to ban diesel vehicles in the coming years to combat air pollution and climate change. Here are a few:  

United Kingdom: The United Kingdom has planned to ban the sale of new petrol- and diesel-engined cars by 2030, while all new cars and vans sold must be fully zero emission by 2035.  

France: has pledged to stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2040.  

Germany: German cities started putting restrictions on older diesel vehicles that emit larger amounts of pollutants in 2018.  

Norway: wants to ditch fossil fuel-powered cars by 2025, much before other countries.  

Netherlands: The Netherlands aims to have only emissions-free vehicles on its roads by 2030. United States: announced it would ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030.  

European Union: European Parliament gave the green light to new legislation to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2035. Under the law, all cars and vans sold in the European Union must be zero-emission by 2035.  

Read more: Explained:How cars can run on hydrogen fuel Cell

What will be the impact of the Ban on diesel vehicles?

Impact on Environment  

Reduction in Air Pollution: With diesel vehicles off the roads, there will be a significant reduction in the emission of particulate matter and harmful gases. This will improve air quality, especially in cities.  

Lower Carbon Emissions: As electric vehicles (EVs) replace diesel cars, CO2 emissions will decrease, helping India meet its climate change commitments and move towards a more sustainable future.  

Impact on Carmakers  

Need for Technological Shift: Car manufacturers will have to invest heavily in EV technology and other technology and associated infrastructure. This might prove to be challenging, especially for those heavily invested in diesel technology.  

Potential Financial Loss: Companies that have recently invested in making their diesel engines compliant with new emission standards might face financial losses if a diesel ban is implemented.  

Impact on Consumers  

Initial High Costs: EVs typically have a higher upfront cost than diesel vehicles. This could make the transition difficult for some consumers, especially those in lower income brackets. Changes in  

Maintenance and Running Costs: While the initial cost of EVs is high, they have lower running and maintenance costs compared to diesel vehicles. Over time, this can offset the initial investment.  

Need for Infrastructure: The lack of adequate charging infrastructure might be a challenge for potential EV owners. However, with the government’s push for EVs, infrastructure development is expected to improve. 

Read more: Why railways around the world are ditching diesel for hydrogen

What are the potential alternatives to diesel vehicles?

Ban on diesel vehicles by 2027: Reasoning
Source: The Economic Times

Electric vehicles (EV): It is one that operates on an electric motor, instead of an internal-combustion engine that generates power by burning a mix of fuel and gases. However, The most significant disadvantage of electric vehicles is that they must be charged regularly.  

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicles: CNG vehicles use compressed natural gas, a cleaner-burning alternative to diesel. CNG vehicles produce fewer emissions and are often cheaper to run than diesel vehicles. However, the shortage of CNG stations and reduced storage space due to large CNG tanks are the major disadvantages of this vehicle.  

Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs): FCVs use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor. They produce no tailpipe emissions, with water vapour being the only by-product. However, the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling is less developed compared to other alternatives.  

Biofuel Vehicles: Biofuel vehicles run on fuels derived from organic materials, such as corn or sugarcane. These fuels can be used in traditional internal combustion engines and can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, there are concerns about the impact of large-scale biofuel production on food supply and prices. 

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Vehicles: LPG, also known as autogas, is a clean-burning fossil fuel that can be used in internal combustion engines. LPG vehicles produce fewer emissions than diesel vehicles and are often cheaper to run.  

Must read: Adoption of EVs: Challenges and Solutions – Explained, pointwise 

What are the challenges in executing the ban on diesel vehicles?

Infrastructure for Alternatives: One of the major challenges is establishing the infrastructure for alternative fuels or electric vehicles. For instance, electric vehicles require a network of charging stations, which are currently not as widely available as diesel refuelling stations.  

Investment Recovery: Automakers have invested heavily in diesel technology to meet existing emission standards. The proposed ban could lead to significant financial losses for them.  

Transition of Commercial Vehicles: Commercial vehicles, including trucks and buses, mostly run on diesel. Transitioning this sector to cleaner alternatives will be challenging due to the specific requirements of these vehicles, such as the need for high torque and long-range capabilities.  

Consumer Acceptance: Changing consumer behaviour and preferences is always challenging. Consumers may have concerns about the cost, performance, and reliability of alternative vehicles.  

Read more: State-run oil marketing companies to buy biodiesel made from used cooking oil

What should be done?

Incentives for Clean Vehicles: The government should provide incentives to consumers and manufacturers for adopting cleaner vehicles. This could be in the form of tax rebates, subsidies, or discounts on electric vehicles (EVs).  

Investment in Infrastructure: Significant investment should be made in developing the necessary infrastructure for alternative vehicles, especially charging stations for EVs. For example, Public and private entities could collaborate to establish charging stations at convenient locations like shopping centers, public parking lots, and along major highways.  

Public Awareness Campaigns: Public awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate consumers about the benefits of clean vehicles and the potential harm caused by diesel emissions.  

Support for Commercial Vehicles: Specific programs should be implemented to support the transition of commercial vehicles from diesel to cleaner alternatives. For instance, subsidies could be offered to transport companies to offset the cost of replacing their diesel trucks with electric or hybrid models.  

Phased Implementation: Instead of an abrupt ban, a phased implementation could be considered. This allows consumers and manufacturers time to adjust and plan accordingly. Such as the ban could start with major cities and gradually extend to smaller towns. It could also start with specific types of vehicles, like public buses or delivery vehicles, before expanding to all types of diesel vehicles.  

Research and Development: Encourage research and development in cleaner technologies and alternative fuels. This can be done through government funding and by fostering partnerships between academia and industry. Like, a government-funded research program could be established to develop more efficient batteries for electric vehicles or more effective emission control technologies for biofuel vehicles. 

Sources: Indian Express, Times Now (Article 1 and Article 2), The HinduEconomic Times, The Hindu Businessline

Syllabus: GS – 3: Environment and Bio-diversity: Conservation

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