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Indian Railway to be Net Zero Emitter by 2030

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    23rd Oct, 2021


Recently, Indian Railways (IR) has announced that it is likely to become world’s first ‘net-zero’ carbon emitter by 2030.

Key Points

  • Contribution in Total Emissions: India's transport sector contributes 12% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions and trains account for about 4% of this emission.
  • Possibly Reducing Opportunities: The Indian Railways can raise the official target of 50% freight share by 2030, up from its current share of 33%.
    • By shifting freight to rail and optimizing truck use, India can reduce logistics costs from 14-10% of Gross Domestic Product and carbon dioxide emissions by 70% by 2050 compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

About Indian Railways

  • Indian Railways: IR is the fourth largest railway network in the world. It is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the country.
    • Passenger Services: It transports 24 million passengers daily across the continent by 13,000 trains covering approximately 67,956 kilometers.
    • Freight Services: 3.3 million tons of freight per day, and thus the fuel demand is huge.

Attempts taken by Indian Railways

  • Increased the Amount of Freight: Indian Railways to increase the value of its shipments from about 35% in 2015 to 45% by 2030 to reduce overall emissions from transportation.
  • Complete Electrification: Complete electrification of Indian Railways is targeted by financial year 2024. It will be the world’s largest 100% electrified rail transportation system by then.
  • Use of Solar Power: Plans to install  20 GigaWatts (GW) solar installations for both traction and non-traction loads.
    • A 7-MW solar power plant was built in Bina, Madhya Pradesh, in July 2020. It is the first solar energy plant in the world to directly power railway overhead lines, from which locomotives draw traction power.
    • 5-MW solar project in Diana, Haryana.
    • Work on a third pilot with a capacity of 50 MW has begun in Bhilai (Chhattisgarh).
    • The 16-kW solar power plant has been installed as a shelter at Sahibabad railway station.
    • The railway ministry has installed solar panels at more than 960 stations and uses solar energy to meet the energy needs of the railway station.
  • Participation of Private Sector: The ministry has included provisions for a Letter of Credit (LC) in the event of railway payment default, as well as a penalty for late payment in the model bidding document for solar power developers. 
  • This is to encourage the private sector to participate in the project.

Net-Zero Emissions

  • It refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
    • First, man-made emissions (such as those from mineral and industrial-powered vehicles) should be reduced as close to freezing as possible.
    • Second, any remaining GHG should be weighed with an equal amount of carbon removal, for example by reforestation.

Global Situation

  • As of June 2020, 20 countries and regions have adopted net-zero targets..
  • The Kingdom of Bhutan is already carbon-negative, i.e. absorbs more CO2 than it emits.

Indian Scenario

  • Individual CO2 emissions in India - at 1.8 tons per person in 2015 - are about ninth of those in the USA and about a third of the global average of 4.8 tons per person.
  • Overall, however, India now ranks third in the world in terms of CO2, after China and the USA.
  • Areas the largest output: Energy> Industry> Forestry> Transport> Agriculture> Building