Our planet has been grappling with a profound climate crisis for a while now. The persistent issue of pollution continues to exacerbate the situation. Global warming, a key factor in this crisis, has led to a steady rise in temperatures worldwide. Icebergs and glaciers have been melting at an alarming rate, contributing to the increase in flooding.
Urban areas have been significantly impacted by climate change, experiencing escalating heat and humidity levels, pollution, flooding, and disruptions in rainfall patterns. In the pursuit of mitigating these issues, electric mobility has emerged as a long-term solution.
It promises to have numerous advantages over conventional forms of transportation, including fewer or zero tailpipe emissions and a lower carbon footprint.
What Is Electric Mobility?
Electric mobility is the use of vehicles that are powered by electricity, as opposed to traditional fuels such as petrol and diesel.
Traditional fuels are considered problematic due to several reasons:
- Traditional fuels are non-renewable and finite resources, which means their availability will eventually decline;
- Vehicles running on combustion engines that rely on traditional fuels emit greenhouse gases, further contributing to environmental damage.
Electric cars utilize chargeable lithium batteries as their power source. These batteries store electric energy that is used to propel the vehicle. Similar to how you recharge your smartphone when the battery is low or depleted, electric vehicles (EVs) rely on the stored energy in lithium batteries to function. These batteries consist of cells that are organized into modules. When the modules of lithium batteries in electric vehicles are adequately charged, the vehicle is ready to move.
Over time, lithium batteries have significantly improved in terms of energy efficiency, allowing EVs to travel longer distances before needing a recharge. This enhanced energy density enables electric mobility to become a compelling solution, particularly in the present challenging times.
Governments worldwide have recognized the importance of EVs and implemented various measures to encourage their production and adoption. However, widespread mass production and usage are still relatively distant goals.
Problems with Urban Sustainability and Livability
Most urban areas, especially in developing countries like India, face the challenge of overpopulation and strain on their resources. This is primarily due to the centralization of amenities and opportunities.
Suburbs and villages, on the other hand, typically have limited access to jobs, medical treatment facilities, and other essential civic and social amenities. This results in the migration of the population to urban areas that can’t sustain the pressure with the available resources, including adequate housing, transportation infrastructure, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and other essential services.
Governments, in response, often prioritize creating these resources, often at the expense of environmental degradation such as deforestation and the filling of water bodies. This, coupled with the proliferation of vehicles running on traditional fuel types, contributes to a rise in temperature and pollution levels in urban areas, rendering them unsustainable and uninhabitable.
As a result, heat waves and city flooding have become common occurrences. Delayed monsoons, shortened winters, and a rise in pollution-related diseases are among the prevailing issues.
Electric Mobility for Urban Sustainability and Livability
The uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions from vehicles running on traditional fuels significantly contributes to the loss of sustainability and livability in urban areas.
As previously mentioned, EVs, which rely on chargeable lithium batteries, offer a notable solution to this issue.
Below we discuss some ways electric vehicles can enhance urban sustainability and livability.
Zero Tailpipe Emissions
Traditional vehicles burn fuels generating harmful carbon emissions that are released through their exhaust systems. These emissions contribute to the overall toxicity of the environment.
In contrast, EVs do not possess a tailpipe because they do not emit any gases during operation. Instead, they rely on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which discharge gradually over time.
The entire process of operating an electric vehicle is non-toxic, as it does not involve the release of harmful emissions or pollutants.
Charging Stations Emit Lesser Carbon
Electric vehicles rely on charging stations to recharge their batteries. While it is true that some charging stations may utilize non-renewable energy sources like coal, gasoline, or diesel, the overall carbon emissions associated with EVs are still significantly lower compared to those of traditional vehicles.
Coal-reliant countries like China have reduced carbon footprints by 20% by switching to electric vehicles.
Cleaner EV Battery Production Process
In the past, the production process of EV batteries did raise concerns regarding their carbon footprint. However, significant progress has been made in addressing this issue since. Manufacturers have implemented strict guidelines for battery suppliers, setting clear and non-negotiable standards for production.
One such measure taken by EV manufacturers is to require battery providers to use renewable sources for battery manufacturing, such as solar and wind energy. Tesla, for example, has made a commitment to use batteries made from 100% renewable sources only.
As a result of these efforts, the carbon footprints of EV batteries have been reduced by 2 to 3 times already.
Use of Renewable and Organic Materials
EV manufacturers have been incorporating renewable and organic materials in the production of certain components. The demand for such materials in the market has increased.
Renewable materials can have lower carbon footprints compared to traditional materials, reducing the environmental impact of the vehicle’s production and end-of-life disposal.
What About Public Transportation?
In urban centers, electric mobility provides governments with an opportunity to effectively reduce carbon emissions through the implementation of electric public transportation.
A well-established and extensive electric public transportation system can serve as a superior commuting alternative to personal vehicles. This is particularly relevant in countries where the supporting infrastructure for EVs is still lacking, and the cost of individual EV adoption remains high.
Electric mobility holds the promise of a cleaner and more sustainable environment, but its implementation faces various challenges. Governments face obstacles such as the high cost of raw materials, procurement difficulties, and the need to raise public awareness (especially in developing countries).
Non-renewable fuel sources, such as gasoline and petrol, already pose significant environmental risks. In response, governments are actively working to accelerate the production of EVs, which is not an easy task.
In developing countries, governments have been incentivizing EV adoption by offering higher subsidies and tax concessions to citizens. However, there is still a long way to go in achieving widespread EV adoption.
It is important for governments to lead by example and prioritize the adoption of electric mobility in public transportation.