Fuel economy improved, CO2 emission slightly down for light-duty vehicles: StudyDespite improvements in fuel economy and drop in CO2 emissions, the country needs to do more for dealing with its air quality, experts suggest.
Nepal is seeing a gradual improvement in fuel economy for Light-Duty Vehicles (LDVs) over the years, meaning an improved mileage for these vehicles, according to a new study.
The Baseline Fuel Economy of LDVs Study in Nepal, conducted among nearly 68,000 LDVs, which include car, jeep, pick-up trucks, vans, and microbuses, has recorded that the fuel economy for these vehicles has gone up at the rate of 1.9 percent per annum.
The fuel economy of any vehicle is measured by the distance travelled by automobile and the amount of fuel it consumed for covering the same length. In Nepal, the LDVs performance has improved from 6.98 litres of gasoline-equivalent per 100 kilometres (Lge/100 km) in 2005 to 5.81 Lge/100 km in 2016, indicating import of fuel-efficient vehicles in the country.
According to Mangleswori Dhonju, Programme Coordinator with the Clean Energy Nepal, an organisation that works for promoting sustainable energy use and environmental conservation, the baseline study has also shown a drop in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from these vehicles.
The study, which was made public during the '8th Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Mobility Forum (KSUMF): Towards Efficient and Zero-Emission Transport in Nepal’, on Monday, has recorded a decreasing trend of CO2 emissions at an annual rate of 1.3 percent from 159g/km to 137g/km between the period of 2005 to 2016.
Despite the improvement in fuel economy and drop in CO2 emissions, the country has a lot to do for minimising its ever-worsening quality of air, for which vehicle exhaust is one of the leading factors.
“The baseline study of fuel economy in Nepal is a step towards improving fuel efficiency and emission levels in the transport sector,” said Dhonju. “But, LDVs account only 8 percent of country’ total vehicles and 78 percent of them are two-wheelers.”
Experts in the field have argued that the country needs to do much more for controlling its air pollution, mainly because the number of vehicles continues to increase annually at unprecedented speed.
According to the Department of Transport Management, vehicle registration in Nepal has increased from 0.48 million in 2005 to 3.22 million in 2018 with an annual growth rate of 14 percent. Among the total 8 percent of LDVs, nearly 62 percent are registered cars, followed by jeep 16 percent, pickup (14 percent), van (8 percent), and microbus (1 percent) respectively. The increase in the number of vehicles also translates into release of more pollutants in the air.
A study by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in 2017 had estimated that total greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from the transport sector was 2.74 million tonnes in 2015, which accounted for 26 percent of the total GHG emission in the country.
According to Amrit Nakarmi, coordinator of Energy Systems Planning Analysis under the Centre for Energy Studies of Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, import of low CO2 emitting cars in recent years have consequently resulted in cutting down of CO2 emissions.
The Global Fuel Economic Initiative (GFEI), a global partner that promotes the introduction of cleaner, more energy-efficient vehicles in developing and transitional countries, has set a target of 4.4 Lge/100 km by 2030. But Nepal’s current rate of improvement in fuel economy means the country will reach 4.45 Lge/100km by 2030.
“Fuel economy depends solely on the type of vehicles imported and the policy imposed on the import vehicles,” said Nakarmi. “As per GFEI target to reduce fuel consumption by 50 percent by 2030, the fuel economy of Nepal should come down to 3.48 lge/100km by 2030.”
For cutting down its vehicular emissions, the country needs to invest in the promotion of green vehicles through policy reforms, invest in infrastructure, improve public transportation and promote other non-motorised mobility like riding bicycles, making cycle lanes among others, according to experts.
“For meeting the GFEI target, Nepal needs to shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles,” said Nakarmi. “It is not only environmentally beneficial but also for financial reasons as the country continues to blow billions of rupees on fossil fuel imports.”
Participants discussing the outcomes of the study said that Nepal has the potential to switch to cleaner fuels and adopt electric vehicles in the near future.“Nepal is the country which has over 700 Safa Tempos in 1995,” said Sonika Manandhar, Young Champions of the Earth Prize in Asia and the Pacific in 2019. “Despite such potential, we are spending a significant portion of the budget on imports of fossil fuel. Why are we not leveraging on our experience and sources of renewable energy?”