Solution or Problem?

Solution or Problem?Solution or Problem?

Global warming endangers our health, threatens basic human needs and jeopardizes national security.

According to a recent report published by the Persian magazine Tejarat-e Farda, Tehran and several major cities in Iran are observing an alarming rise in air pollution, which in the long run can contribute to global warming and give rise to serious health conditions.

Domestic cars are a major cause of air pollution. Cars and trucks account for nearly 26% of global greenhouse emissions.

So far, Iran’s Transportation and Fuel Management Organization has worked to replace gasoline with compressed natural gas in vehicles. The plan has proved successful, especially in the public transportation sector.  

But such measures seem to be inadequate, as air pollution is getting worse. Many believe that the main culprits are low-standard gasoline and overproduction of cars by domestic manufacturers.

Some suggest that electric vehicles could help solve such problems, as they do not emit tailpipe pollutants and help reduce air pollution significantly.

Many questions have been raised since the production of these cars started to increase in 2000. The questions concern how green the cars actually are and if their production can be economically justified and benefit national interest.

  Are EVs Really Green?

Is the production of electric vehicles environment-friendly?

To properly answer this question, one must take into consideration the entire cycle. All vehicles experience three distinct life stages: manufacturing, operation and end-of-life. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are emitted during all stages.

Several academic bodies have comprehensively reviewed the cycle over the long run.

Research has shown that batteries of electric cars generate about half as much emissions as an average car running on gasoline.

However, depending on where the electricity comes from, electric cars may or may not help the country combat climate change.

For instance, in China where coal is the primary fuel used at power plants, driving an electric car can be a catastrophe for climate change. In short, electric cars are only as good as the fuel used to generate its electricity.

The same applies to countries like Iran where energy is mainly provided by burning oil and natural gas. In Iran, natural gas or oil-fired energy stations produce 94% of the electricity used in the country.

  National Interest

Is it possible to utilize EVs nationwide in the near future with the available infrastructure? Would it help curb national greenhouse gas emission and should Iran invest in this sector?

In the automotive sector, several steps have been taken by the government and other official bodies to tackle problems caused by air pollution and global warming.

The current administration has incentivized the use of alternative technology in the auto sector by substantially reducing import tariffs on hybrid cars and supporting the production of EVs by local car companies.

In 2010, the government decided to reduce gasoline subsidies. Gas prices in Iran have leapt up to 75% after state subsidies were cut, although fuel costs in Iran are still among the cheapest in the world.

Promoting the use of public transportation and convincing people not to use cars are some of the other measures taken by the government.

The significant growth in Tehran’s subway network and the induction of less pollutant taxis also contributed significantly to the cause.

Alireza Daemi, a deputy at the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, attested that the government has long-term programs.

“The sixth five-year economic development plan (2016-21) targets replacing a portion of vehicles running on fossil fuels or thermal engines with green vehicles. This will help reduce air pollution and cut down energy consumption,” he said.

“Iranian specialists have started to reverse engineer electric vehicles to master the technologies used in building the modern cars.”

  Charging Stations

One of the main issues troubling the officials is the lack of proper infrastructure for promoting the wider use of EVs. Charging stations are one of the essential facilities for taking any meaningful step in this path.

In early spring, Yousef Sarafraz, CEO of East Azarbaijan Electric Power Distribution Company, said charging stations are being designed and will be set up around the city.

Similar measures are to be implemented nationwide, depending on the timely and adequate allocation of resources.

In the best-case scenario, the infrastructure for EVs will be established in five years but until then schemes should be devised to reduce air pollution.

For a metropolis like Tehran, where at least 4,000 people die annually from diseases caused by air pollution, there are no other options but to put aside vehicles with internal combustion engines and shift to zero-emission vehicles.

It is clear that the only way out is by bringing about a fundamental change in our way of life such as using public means of transportation. EVs are part of the changes to come and Iran’s national infrastructure must evolve to become more eco-friendly and catch up with modern technologies.

This would mark a giant leap for the nation and is not something that can be done overnight. It will demand vast investment and national will.