India to make every single car electric by 2030 in bid to tackle pollution that kills millions

Technology will be introduced ‘in a very big way’, says minister

Article written by Harriet Agerholm and published The Independent on The Independent the 1st of May 2017

Every car sold in India will be powered by electricity by the year 2030, according to plans unveiled by the country’s energy minister.

The move is intended to lower the cost of importing fuel and lower costs for running vehicles.

“We are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way,” coal and mines minister Piyush Goyal said at the Confederation of Indian Industry Annual Session 2017 in New Delhi.

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Delhi is India’s most polluted city, according to Greenpeace, with concentrations of particulate matter 13 times the limit set by the World Health Organisation –Reuters-

Comparing the drive to a 2015 initiative in the country to reduce energy bills by promoting LED lightbulbs, he told reporters: “We are going to make electric vehicles self-sufficient… The idea is that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country.”

Mr Goyal said the electric car industry would need between two and three years of government assistance, but added that he expected the production of the vehicles to be “driven by demand and not subsidy” after that.

“The cost of electric vehicles will start to pay for itself for consumers,” he said according to the International Business Times. “We would love to see the electric vehicle industry run on its own,” he added.

An investigation by Greenpeace this year found that as many as 2.3 million deaths occur every year due to air pollution in the country. The report, entitled ‘Airpocalypse’, claimed air pollution had become a “public health and economic crisis” for Indians.

It said the number of deaths caused by air pollution was only “a fraction less” than the number of deaths from tobacco use, adding that 3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was lost to the levels of toxic smog.

“India’s pollution trends have been steadily increasing, with India overtaking China in number of deaths due to outdoor air pollution in 2015,” the report said, saying a “robust monitoring system” was urgently needed.

Delhi was India’s most polluted city, the report found, with concentrations of particulate matter 13 times the annual limit set by the World Health Organisation.

Mr Goyal said the electric car scheme would first target “larger consumer centres, where pollution is at an all-time high”, such as Delhi.

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Air pollution plan: sacrificing the nation’s health to save an election campaign

Penalising UK drivers in the heat of an election campaign promises a political car crash, so the government has hit the brakes and slammed clean air policy into reverse

Article written by  and published in TheGuardian the 5th of May 2017

For seven years, people in Britain have been forced to hold their breath and wait for a comprehensive plan to tackle the nation’s toxic air crisis. After a series of humiliating defeats in the courts, Friday’s government plan was meant to finally deliver.

But instead ministers hit the brakes and slammed the policy into reverse – the farcical new strategy has even less detail than the one already ruled illegal. What was the impassable roadblock in the way of finally starting to cut the 23,000 early deaths diesel pollution causes every year? Nothing but pure political expediency.

The only sure way to bring the toxic nitrogen dioxide spewed out by dirty diesel vehicles down to legal levels is to keep them out of cities and towns. The law demands the fastest possible action, which means deterring polluting drivers with charges – as will happen in London. But backing new taxes on drivers in the heat of an election campaign promises a political car crash, so ministers have simply swerved and crashed into the nation’s health instead.

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Pollution haze over London. Diesel pollution causes 23,000 early deaths every year in Britain. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

The most shocking aspect is that buried in the documents are candid admissions that the crisis is the “largest environmental threat to public health in the UK” and that it is a “direct result” of car makers gaming emissions tests for years, so that their vehicles pump out far more pollution on the road than in the official lab tests.

Ministers even say: “We will continue to press car manufacturers to develop options for recalling existing vehicles to improve their real world emissions performance.” But unlike in Germany and France, the government’s pressing of car makers has driven precisely zero action.

Rather than tackle air pollution head on, the government has passed the buck to local authorities, daring them to impose the needed charges instead and face the electoral consequences. Ministers suggest councils should penalise any diesel cars more than two years old – most of them – but lack the courage of their convictions.

In place of meaningful action, the government’s plan suggests gimmicks such as removing speed bumps and re-phasing traffic lights, measures as likely to increase traffic and emissions as to cut them.

One of the few good parts of the new plan is funds to clean up older buses, lorries and taxis but even this is old money, already announced in the budget. The much vaunted scrappage scheme is mentioned only as a possibility and even then would only cover 0.1% of all diesel cars.

The new plan will leave the nation gasping for years to come and it seems likely that ClientEarth, the lawyers who have twice had the government’s plans declared illegal, will return to the courts for a third time.

The government is likely to view its manoeuvring as a political success, having buried its feeble plan under the local election results. The government’s cynical calculus is that diesel drivers are more of a political force to be feared than people angry about the health damage being caused to them and their children.