The invention of the gasoline-engine automobile by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler of Germany in the 19th century was a landmark in history. Karl Benz believed that the internal combustion engine would oust the use of horses for transportation and bring about a revolution. The thought process of this visionary is commendable, as the gasoline engine has indeed, made its mark in the world of transportation.
The automobile has become such an inherent part of our lives that many of us overlook the fact that it has been silently contributing to one of the most pressing problems worldwide - global warming. Greenhouse gases trap the heat in the atmosphere and increase the temperature of the planet. Over the last 150 years, the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases has been predominantly due to human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels for heat, electricity, and transportation.
Global warming is found to have an impact on our health, the weather, and the environment. So it is very important to control global warming through the introduction of renewable energy sources in the transportation sector. There are several opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles operating on land, air, and sea.
How To Reduce Emissions From Vehicles:
- Private cars - It is seen that the number of cars on the road is consistently on the rise. As a short-term proposition, drivers should look to conserve fuel while commuting. This can be done by reducing idling at traffic signals and adopting more fuel efficient ways to get from point A to point B. The use of public transportation for commute is also a good choice in this regard. In the longer term, electric vehicles (EVs) could be a suitable solution. More emphasis should be laid by the governments on alternative fuels, so that supply issues do not halt vital transport activities.
- Trucks and vans - Diesel engines have been traditionally used for freightage on the highways. Since the battery technology available today may not be suitable for the operation of electric trucks, drivers can be trained in energy conservation. Plus, the transportation of goods can be carried out by small electric vans. Duties and taxes levied on the shipment of merchandise can result in smarter and more efficient transport solutions that consume lesser energy.
- Ships - International shipping contributes to 90% of the global goods transportation mechanism. The CO2 emissions in shipping can be curbed to a large extent by adjusting it to a slower traffic and introducing better logistics. The construction of ships with improved propellers, hulls, and smooth bottom paint is expected to lessen the CO2 emissions. The engine technology can be improved with the use of solar and wind power as well. The agreement on these regulations should happen at an international level for actual results to be seen.
- Aeroplanes - The fuel efficiency of passenger aircrafts can be improved greatly. Usage of lighter construction materials can reduce the air drag. Solar energy can also be made use of in a very effective manner. There needs to be more research on the usage of biofuels in air transport. Further, controlling the air traffic in a more optimum manner will avoid planes waiting in the air before landing or on the runway before departure. There should be a global agreement on the legislations regarding CO2 emissions from aviation.
The impact of global warming is visible in the form of rising sea levels, higher temperatures, severe droughts, and flooding. However, there are several measures that we can take at the moment to keep the phenomenon under control. Some of the measures explained below, among others, can help us in reducing our carbon emissions:
- Usage of fuel-efficient vehicles - Such vehicles use less fuel to travel a specific distance when compared to the alternative modes of transport. It is a given that burning less fuel will result in lower emissions. This can bring down the pace of global warming to a large extent.
- Cleaner fuels - Using cleaner fuels is a sure-shot way to reduce one’s carbon emissions. There are some clean fuels made from cellulosic biofuels that bring down the emissions by up to 80% in comparison to carbon fuels. There could also be better regulations and more stringent pollution testing norms that can help in curbing emissions.
- Electric vehicles - Electric cars and buses use electricity as fuel. These produce lower emissions than the vehicles running on internal combustion engines. If the electricity is also derived from renewable sources, the EVs would effectively produce zero emissions when used.
The government of India has been spearheading a drive to reduce carbon emissions in the country through the introduction of stringent regulations on Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates. The government has also announced an electric mobility programme that looks to switch to all electric vehicles by the year 2030.
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