NEW DELHI : To encourage the rapidly expanding freight transport ecosystem to transition to zero emission movement, the WEF had, earlier this year, announced the setting up of a zero emission road freight cluster. This would be the first such cluster anywhere in the country. And this cluster is being supported by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways as well as the NITI Aayog. The aim of this zero emission freight corridor is to bring together the government and the private sector to deploy over 550 zero-emission trucks in select road corridors along Gujarat and Maharashtra.
India moves on trucks. Unlike some developed economies where a fair share of freight is transported by rail and air, road transport continues to dominate freight movement in India. Nearly 4.6 billion tons of freight moves across the country annually, generating 2.2 trillion ton kilometres of transport demand.
But the peculiar Indian trait is this: nearly three-fourths of all goods are transported on trucks. And as the economy expands and the demand for freight movement increases, more and more trucks will be on the road.
A Niti Ayog study estimates the share of road transport in overall freight movement at 9.6 trillion ton kilometres by 2050, which means it will more than quadruple by then. The number of trucks in India will also grow by a multiple of four, from about four million now to about 17 million by 2050. Within road transport too, the share of heavy duty trucks trumps other vehicle categories, at 76%.
While an increase in overall freight movement is the mark of a healthy economy, this multiplication in the number of trucks moving across India would also mean a significant increase in emissions, since the trucking industry today primarily uses diesel. And heavy duty trucks are estimated to account for 45% of all on-road emissions. So what about our zero emission goals then?
One way to lower overall emissions is by transitioning to zero-emission trucks – which include trucks operating on battery or other alternative fuels. This can lead to 2.8–3.8 gigatons of cumulative CO2 savings between now and 2050. This saving would equal India’s entire economy-wide annual GHG emissions today, as per an analysis by the World Economic Forum.
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