TERI study shows potential for sustainable highways in India

India’s National Highways contribute significantly to the country’s economic development, with the second-longest road network in the world covering 144,634 km as of date of publication of this story (23 February 2023). However, the construction and maintenance of these highways also have a considerable impact on the environment in the form of carbon dioxide emissions.

TERI Study: Assessing the Potential for Avoided CO2 Emissions

According to a study conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), fossil fuel-run vehicles on Indian highways emitted approximately 243 million tonnes of CO2 in 2016, accounting for 10.8% of the total national CO2 emissions. To address this issue, TERI examined the potential for avoided CO2 emissions from the construction and operation of national highways.

The study, titled “Assessment of Avoided CO2 Emissions during Construction, Maintenance and Operation of National Highways,” analyzed 20 selected stretches of NH spanning a total of 2,191.5 km, which are located in mountainous regions of North and North-East, hilly regions of Western Ghats on the western coast, in Southern India, and in the eastern section of the Deccan plateau.

State-of-the-Art National Highways Can Reduce CO2 Emissions

The report found that state-of-the-art national highways replacing congested and often circuitous routes can help avoid CO2 emissions by reducing fuel combustion in vehicles plying on them. Additionally, avenue plantations and compensatory afforestation can sequester CO2, adding to the offset of CO2 emitted from highway operations as a whole.

Potential for Avoided CO2 Emissions: Highlighting Benefits of Efficient Highways

The study provides a comprehensive picture of the potential for avoided CO2 emissions from national highways. By assessing the CO2 avoidance per kilometer of NH constructed, it highlights the benefits of state-of-the-art highways replacing older and less efficient ones.

The construction and maintenance of National Highways are crucial to India’s economic growth. However, this study by TERI highlights the importance of considering sustainable and environmentally-friendly options for these highways. The findings can help policymakers in India and around the world make informed decisions regarding the construction and maintenance of highways that are beneficial to both economic growth and the environment.

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