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    India Shies away from Committing to End use of Fossil Fuel Vehicles

    India was one of the major economies of the world that did not fully sign up for COP26 ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicles) deal in Glasgow that seeks to put a timeline between 2035 and 2040 to the end of production and sale of vehicles that run on combustion engines.

    India was not alone. None of the other major automobile producing nations including China, the US, Japan, France, Germany or South Korea was signatories either. As a result, only 24 countries signed up with the UK having the largest production base of the lot. By its own admission, the UK government said the pledged phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles covers only 16 per cent of global car markets.

    It pointed towards the futility of the accord itself and raised fresh doubts on the seriousness of major economies towards tackling global warming and curbing carbon emissions. The transport sector accounts for almost a fourth of all carbon emissions in the world.

    For India in particular, it followed a pattern of not signing on the dotted line on similar accords in other sectors where a firm commitment was sought. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi through his address at Glasgow on November 2 grabbed headlines by surprisingly committing to a zero-carbon deadline by 2070, India has dithered over signing a deal to end the use of coal-fired power. Similarly, it did not sign up for the petition to end deforestation or to slash emissions by methane by the end of this decade.

    All that India offered in Glasgow, was a token statement that the government would support the transition of two and three-wheelers to electric. It did not commit to a deadline–the critical element of the deal.

    “In all likelihood, we will see the end of ICE sometime in the next decade so it was a good opportunity for India to grab some bragging rights by signing up for the accord. Considering none of the top 5 markets did that, it would have been a real statement of intent,” said a domestic industry veteran who is attending the summit in Glasgow.

    “Even then, I am not too worried. We have seen the government’s commitment to electric mobility in the policies which has created a good tailwind for EVs. I am certain the days of ICE in India or around the world, are numbered,” he said.

    Along with the 24 countries, as many as 11 global automakers including General Motors, Ford, Mercedes Benz and Volvo also committed to stopping producing fossil fuel vehicles in leading markets around the world by 2035. However, just like in the case of governments, the biggest names in the business like Volkswagen Group, Toyota, Hyundai Kia or even Renault Nissan–the biggest EV maker among traditional automakers, were missing.

    “COP26 marks the end of the road for the internal combustion engine. For those organisations notably absent – the climate cannot wait for you to get on board with zero emission vehicles,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO, Climate Group. “It’s time to get out of the slow lane before you miss the exit.”

    In its bid to declare the COP26 Glasgow Summit a success, the UK government tried to put a positive spin to the Accord highlighting the importance of first-time joiners from Africa–Kenya, Rawanda and Ghana and even adding India to the list of signatories even though it has not agreed to a deadline. Yet, the feeling is palpable that even more was needed.

    “The car industry’s electrification plans place it ahead of regulators on climate action. But that won’t last without actual targets to end car emissions by 2035 in lead markets,” said Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and e-mobility at Transport & Environment (T&E). “The US and Europe, especially Germany, need to lead.”

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