India's Middle Class Dream is World's Climate Change Nightmare
Thursday, January 10, 200812 Comments
the $2500 Tata Nano
Much like Westerners, Indians see automobile ownership as essential to their transition from poverty to middle class comfort.
Tata Motors, India's biggest car manufacturer is ready to make their transition complete by offering a $2500 car, the Nano. Tata motors plans to sell at least one million Nanos per year. Tata Motors
While the Nano represents a dream for India's middle class citizens who will now be able to enjoy the freedom offered by a car, the Nano looks like a nightmare for scientists worldwide who are fighting to reduce green house gas emissions.
The Nano also represents increased safety for Indian families, as company chairman Ratan Tata is quick to point out. "Two-wheelers - with the father driving, the elder child standing in front and the wife behind holding a baby - is very much the norm in this country. In that form two-wheelers are a relatively unsafe mode of transporting a family. The two-wheeler image is what got me thinking that we needed to create a safer form of transport." Ratan Tata, Tata Motors
While the improvements in comfort and safety are undeniable, the environmental impact of millions of Nanos on the road is enough to make any environmentalist trade in their Prius for an Escalade. The car itself may meet European emissions standards but the sheer number likely to be sold in India - not to mention on the export market - is of breathtaking concern. According to Report on Business, with the introduction of the low-cost vehicles India is expected to release 1,467 million metric tons of carbon from vehicles alone, according to the Asian Development Bank. A staggering number when compared to Canada's own emissions. Report on Business
In 2004, Indian exhaust pipes released 219 million metric tons of carbon into the air. Comparatively, Canada's total fossil-fuel use peaked in 2004 at 174 million metric tons and that includes all fossil fuels, not just cars. While Canadians stand around and bicker about our inability to meet the standards agreed upon in the Kyoto Accord, developing countries like India are rapidly increasing their emissions. Developing countries, after all, are fully exempt from the emissions reductions of the Kyoto Accord.
If projections are correct, if Canadians were to stop using fossil fuels altogether today - that is, no more cars, no more coal, no more natural gas - new cars on Indian roads would replace our emissions reduction entirely in just 3.75 years. The projected growth of India's emissions from cars in the next twenty-seven years is equivalent to, get this, seven times Canada's total emissions in 2004. Union of Concerned Scientists
When you add in the fact that official Chinese policy suggests that each family should own a car, the growth in emissions from developing countries makes our potential emissions reductions a mere raindrop in the flood.
While Western scientists and politicians battle out carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes in Bali, it appears the developing world's thirst for western lifestyles is rendering their decisions obsolete. If climate change - or any environmental cause - is to be addressed, we must realize that global participation is key. Even good-intentioned decisions in the West must take into account different circumstances in the developing world. Otherwise efforts in here will be thwarted by developing nations where new purchasing power has met the Western model of development.
While Nanos will initially be sold only in India, you can prepare for them to to burst onto the export market in the future. That which India produces is bound to end up here. Until then, visit / www.tatapeoplescar.com / and "build your dream car."