Globally, a large number of international players have introduced green tires as an option for reduced carbon emission. Such initiatives also present a new opportunity that can be explored by Indian firms.
Last year in November 2011, the European Union operationalised a novel concept of ‘Green Tires’ in its transport sector. This new business initiative was a response to address climate change challenges in an adaptive fashion. . Subsequently, many other economies have launched similar initiatives. Given the fact that carbon emissions and footprint associated with the automobile sector is increasingly becoming an area of focus, , India must also introduce relevant innovative steps in its transport sector in a bid to ensure sustainability in its growth. Green tires can be one such option.
Steps like green tires taken by the western countries have been primarily due to their climate change commitments.
As a matter of fact, this has necessitated the need to curb fossil fuel consumption as they are the principle emitters of carbon dioxide.
Apart from industrial carbon emissions, research shows that a large percentage of fossil fuel is consumed by means of transportation (Reuters, 2010).The trend of fuel prices has made it quite certain that it will continue to rise in the future. Thus, climate change and increasing fuel prices concerns have triggered efforts to increase fuel efficiency. Resultantly, transport sector is gradually becoming the focus area to address climate change.
Studies show that 20 percent to 30 percent of fuel consumption and over 24 percent of CO2 emissions are caused by tyres . The rolling resistance of the tire is a major cause of fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions levels of a vehicle. This propelled the need to develop fuel optimized tires and in its efforts to be a green leader, the European Union came out with its unique version of fuel optimized tires under the name of “green tires” in the European tire industry.
Green tires enable less rolling resistance as well as lower CO2 emission levels in a vehicle. Today the total efficiency potential in fuel consumption is on an average 3 percent . Considering these benefits, the EU created a European tire label that sets technical standards and provides information on substance-force efficiency, wet grip and rolling noise. The tire standards were implemented through the regulation 661/2009/EG.
Green tires have been emulated by economies like South Korea, Japan, US and even China. This proves that efforts are now being made by leading global players to leverage this opportunity to attain maximum sustainability in their respective transport sectors. India, with its transport sector being the second largest contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, cannot be silent spectator to these international developments. There is huge scope for growth in India’s transport sector. And by aligning development with climate agenda for a more sustainable transport sector, the results can be further amplified. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that was formulated in 2008 also recognizes the fact that Green House Gases (GHG) emissions from transport can be reduced by adopting a sustainability approach. The NAPCC envisaged this approach through a combination of measures like increased use of public transport, higher penetration of bio fuels, enhanced energy efficiency of transport vehicles, etc...
Indian government should think particularly about measures to increase fuel efficiency in vehicles as with burgeoning population and increasing urban lifestyles, the growth of vehicles is bound to increase in the future. Already, the total number of registered vehicles in the country has increased from 5.4 million in 1981 to 99.6 million in 2007. Two wheelers and cars constitute nearly 88 percent of the total vehicles at the national level . . Green tires can be one welcome step in this regard as tires consume most of the fuel in a vehicle. Further, the Indian government must aim for integrated plan of development for the country’s transport sector. Of this, capacity-building should be a vital element in view of the rising pressure on the sector. Green roads, green engines, road safety, coordinated transport network and information sharing at various levels of policy execution should form other areas of focus within the larger plan.
Promoting Public -Private Partnership (PPP) can prove to be a rewarding approach to bring about sustainable changes in India’s transport sector. Additionally, India could also demand for green technology from the western countries as technology transfer is a key issue among developed countries in helping developing world tackle climate change.
India’s transport sector needs renewed attention. Undertaking planned and systematic actions in this field would contribute to improving the country’s productivity and energy efficiency in a big way and also support its international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees. Moreover, it would also strengthen India’s image of a sincere global player in addressing climate change.
The author Vijeta Rattani is a Doctoral Research Scholar with the Centre for European Studies at School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.