Plug and drive

  • Given the worsening air quality, electric buses are welcome
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 25, 2018-

The air quality in Nepal is among the worst in the world. The country was ranked fifth from the bottom among 180 countries by the Environment Performance Index 2018. Driven by rapid urbanisation, demand for transportation services, which accounted for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, is only increasing.

Electric vehicles (EVs) offer a solution to meeting this demand besides reducing carbon emissions to address climate change. Countries around the world are moving to replace their smoke belching, diesel and petrol guzzling vehicles. In Nepal, Bijuli buses—the country’s first battery-powered electric buses—have hit the roads. This is a welcome move because air pollution is a silent killer that will put our long-term wellbeing and productivity in serious jeopardy.

No surprise, the air quality in Kathmandu is deteriorating with each passing day. In fact, it is so serious that many agencies have even called on the government to recognise it as a public health emergency. The city is largely covered in smog. The nearest Himalayan peaks from Kathmandu—Ganesh Himal and Langtang—used to be clearly visible previously. Thanks to pollution, haze now obscures their pristine natural clarity. Given this, electric vehicles (EVs) have long been touted as a solution to the country’s economic and environmental issues. The test drive of Nepal’s first battery-powered buses on select routes in the Capital from Tuesday is thus a step in the right direction when it comes to policy interventions.

One of the biggest health advantages of EVs is that they do not emit poisonous gases and they release much less particulate matter. They are also more energy efficient compared to gasoline vehicles. And the fact that they have caught on much faster than was thought likely just a few years is telling of how efforts are being made globally to switch to environment-friendly means of transport.

For example, in Norway last year, 51 percent of the new vehicles registered were electric and hybrid models. As of 2017, in China, there were 191,000 electric vehicle users, while our other neighbour, India, plans to have an all-electric fleet by 2030. What’s more, many experts also say that the growth of electric cars, if coupled with the surge in renewable energy sources like solar and wind, could potentially lead to a big reduction in emissions over time.

The timing of the introduction of Bijuli buses in the Capital couldn’t have been more apt. No doubt, progress will come in drips, not cannon volleys, but this is a good start. The EV future is coming, and we should get ready to charge.

Published: 25-10-2018 07:42

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