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Decarbonizing Indian road logistics: A key step for a sustainable future

India, the major country with the fastest rate of growth, has the issue of decarbonizing its road transport industry, which is responsible for a sizable share of energy demand and related emissions. Decarbonizing the transportation sector would require significant work if India is to meet its net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target by 2070.

Less than 5% of India’s total energy use is used for transportation, but this sector is also responsible for 12% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. This industry’s growth and emissions are increasing more quickly than those of other industries as a result of the Indian economy’s rapid expansion.

Thus, it is crucial to address the negative effects of diesel-powered transportation on the environment and look into practical low-emission alternatives, particularly for long-distance roads.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have begun to gain traction in last-mile logistics, but it will be much longer before EVs are widely used for long-distance heavy-duty transport due to the need for major breakthroughs in battery and charging technology as well as charging infrastructure. In fact, we are confident that EVs will considerably cut CO2 and other hazardous emissions during short-haul, heavy-duty freight transportation. Similar to electric vehicles, zero-emission fuel alternatives like hydrogen are still in the development phase and will take longer time to fully develop and go on sale. To begin the decarbonization of its road logistics, the nation must act now and not wait eternally for these technologies.

Until zero-emission alternatives are economically feasible, liquefied natural gas (LNG) can play a vital role in this transitional phase in decreasing emissions in road logistics. 

Compared to diesel-powered vehicles, LNG-powered HCVs emit up to 30% less CO2, 100% less SOx, 59% less NOx, 70% less CO, and 91% less particulate matter. 

Vehicles fueled by LNG can go up to 1,400 kilometers on a single tank of fuel and emit 30% less noise pollution. 

The ideal transition fuel for decarbonizing heavy transport is LNG due to a combination of all these qualities.

In 2020, road transportation will account for around 65% of all freight transit, followed by rail at 27%, coastal shipping at 5%, and inland waterways at 2%. Moreover, road transportation uses the most energy for moving freight, and between 2005 and 2020, its energy use increased more quickly than its corresponding percentage of freight activity. This difference is mostly attributable to Indian trucking fleets’ poor fuel efficiency. India has made relatively little headway in putting strict fuel economy regulations into place, especially for heavy-duty vehicles. This has led to increasing energy use and higher emissions.

In this context, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) emerges as a crucial alternative fuel in hastening India’s switch to a cleaner fuel for its long-distance heavy-duty freight transport system. When compared to diesel, LNG has the potential to considerably cut carbon emissions, making it a viable choice for long-distance heavy-duty freight transportation until zero emission alternatives are economically feasible.

The implementation of Prime Minister Modi’s plan to transform India into a gas-based economy and the achievement of India’s emission reduction targets outlined in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement at COP21 will both depend on this shift to LNG-powered road logistics.

Due to its crucial benefit of lower emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, which results in enhanced air quality and less environmental impact, large corporations are embracing LNG-powered road logistics. Companies who use LNG-powered trucks in their long-haul freight transportation fleets not only help the environment but also get increased operational efficiencies and a favorable brand reputation that is in line with environmental stewardship and ESG performance.

To create a more environmentally friendly logistics system, LNG has emerged as a promising option. The environmental advantages of its use in long-haul, heavy-duty trucking include reduced emissions and enhanced air quality.

By recognizing LNG as the preferred fuel for long-distance road operations, India can significantly advance its transportation industry’s transition to a greener, more sustainable future, protect the environment for future generations, and achieve progress toward its goal of net zero GHG emissions.