Passenger car ownership will witness a jump of a whopping 775 per cent in India over the next 24 years with the number of vehicles going up from 20 per 1,000 inhabitants at present to 175, a study says.
Passenger vehicle ownership has nearly tripled in the past decade, bringing with it a strong increase in tailpipe and non-exhaust emissions and causing damage to human health, the report by International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
Coordinated urban planning and investment in public transport as proposed in the government's smart city mission offer a "promising" avenue to curb transport-related air pollution, it said.
"In the new policies scenario, passenger car ownership grows from less than 20 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants today to 175 cars per 1,000 people in 2040, and overall road passenger vehicle activity increases more than six-times," the World Energy Outlook (WEO) report said.
Despite fuel economy improvements in the light and heavy duty vehicle fleets, transport oil demand is expected to rise from its present 1.5 million barrels per day (mb/d) to more than 5 mb/d in 2040.
On the government's move to adopt Bharat VI emission standard nationwide by April 2020 after skipping Bharat V, the report said implementing these standards will limit gasoline and diesel fuels to 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, "bringing India into line with the global leaders in fuel sulfur standards".
It said around three-quarters of total passenger vehicle-kilometres in India today are driven in urban areas.
"Coordinated urban planning and investment in public transport, as envisaged in the Smart Cities Mission, offer a promising avenue to curb transport-related air pollution.
"The projected adoption of Bharat VI does constrain the growth in air pollutant emissions from transport. The decline is underpinned by increasing stringency of standards for HDVs with a key role for buses," the report said. The report said transport at present accounts for about 40 per cent of energy-related NOX emissions in India. But as emissions decline by 50 per cent to 1.4 Mt in 2040, the share drops to less than a fifth.
"The decline is underpinned by increasing stringency of standards for HDVs (heavy duty vehicles) with a key role for buses," it said.
The report said India remains heavily reliant on road freight despite the "intention" to move part of this load to new dedicated rail freight corridors.
"But with gradual introduction of Bharat VI starting in selected cities, emission from freight trucking drop by 40 per cent in the period to 2040, despite burgeoning industrial output," it said.
Noting that transport plays a relatively minor role -- less than 5 per cent -- in India's energy-related emissions of PM2.5, the report said the level of PM emissions by trucks, buses and two-stroke motorcycles is higher than in many other countries.
"Successful efforts to control exhaust emissions from buses (and a move away from two-stroke motorcycles) are projected to put total transport related PM2.5 emissions on a declining trend over the next 10-15 years, but then emissions flatten, as the passenger vehicle fleet grows and offsets some of the declines," it said.
On Delhi, the report said the Supreme Court's ruling on the situation in Delhi over the years have led to the retirement of commercial vehicles older than 15 years, the conversion of all commercial passenger vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG) and a temporary ban on the sale of new diesel vehicles with engines above a certain size.
"These measures, often reinforced – as in the case of CNG – by supportive national and municipal policies, have diminished emissions intensity.
"But this benefit is more than offset by ongoing strong demand growth for mobility and so transport energy use: Delhi remains among the most heavily polluted cities in the world," the report said.
It said the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 aims to achieve sales of 6-7 million hybrid and electric vehicles per year by 2020, a market dominated by two-wheelers.