Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav today released the report on “Assessment of Avoided CO2 Emissions during Construction and Operation of National Highways” at the World Sustainable Development Summit in the presence of Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, Vice president of Guyana, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Special Envoy on Climate Change and COP28 President in New Delhi . The study assesses the extent of CO2 which can be avoided per km in construction of the National Highways.
India has the 2nd longest road network in the world. Amongst the different types of roads, the National Highways (NH) extending to 1,44,634 km1 till date has contributed significantly to India’s rapid economic development. Between 2014 and January 2023, more than half of the existing highways (~77,265 km)2 have been added. This rapid pace of construction of highways is enabling integration of the local economies of far-flung towns and villages into the national economy. Construction and maintenance of roads is known to be a source of CO2 , which is over and above the CO2 emitted from fuel operated vehicles on roads. In 2016, about 243 million tonnes of CO2 was emitted from the operation of fossil fuel run vehicles in India, which is 10.8% of the total national CO2 emissions.
The new and improved state of the art NH replacing congested and often circuitous routes, however, can help avoid CO2 emissions by reducing fuel combustion in vehicles plying on them. The avenue plantations and compensatory afforestation’s (CA) can additionally sequester CO2 , thus adding to the offset of CO2 emitted from highway operations as a whole. This summary report presents a methodology for assessing the extent of CO2 that can be avoided per km of national highways constructed. Further, preconstruction and actual operation and maintenance data of national highways have been applied to quantify the CO2 avoidance per km of NH constructed.
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