India, the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world behind China and the United States, has a simple yet ambitious plan to reduce its impact on the environment: electric cars.
The country’s minister of power announced last month that India is aiming to replace all gas guzzlers with electric cars by 2030. It’s a move that’s sure to scare the fossil fuel industry, as electric cars become increasingly popular and affordable worldwide. (By 2026, the manufacturing cost of electric cars is expected to fall below that of gasoline cars as the price of electric car batteries drops.)
“We are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way,” power minister Piyush Goyal said at an event in March. “The idea is that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country.”
The environmental and economic impact of this goal cannot be understated. About 16% of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by road transport, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. In India, the percentage of CO2 emissions by vehicles is a bit lower — around 11% — but still significant. Electric cars are nonetheless gaining steam — er, battery? — on a global scale.
Worldwide more than 1 million electric cars were sold in 2016. More than half of these cars (570,000) were sold in Europe. Per capita, Norway leads the world in electric car adoption, and last year around two in five newly-registered cars ran on electricity.
Goyal has said in the past that India could finance its electric car initiative through savings on gas and petrol. Consumers would not pay a down payment on the electric cars. Instead, they would pay for the vehicles in smaller installments over time, out of their savings on petrol, according to Clean Technica.
“Can we actually give electric car [sic] for free….and people can pay for that out of the savings on the petroleum products?” he asked in March.
According to the Times of India, the government would also “handhold the electric vehicle industry,” for the first few years of its rollout, through government subsidies on electric vehicles. This would lower costs for new car buyers at the outset and allow the industry to plant a foothold in the market long-term.
India is not the only country beginning to imagine an electric car future. Just last month, Beijing announced an initiative to replace all petrol taxis with electric ones in 2017 to combat rising levels of smog and pollution. Overall, China, the world’s number one polluter, plans to have 5 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2020.
And the future of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles is not relegated to cars. Tech companies are developing electric buses, trains, and planes, which could drastically reduce CO2 emissions and lead to a cleaner, healthier planet.
India’s power ministry has shown a commitment to other clean energy initiatives in the past few years, such as an LED distribution project that led to around 500 million bulbs being sold in two years. Getting consumers to switch over to electric cars would be an even bigger victory.