Thursday, January 24, 2008

Counter Analysis on the Tata Nano

A few days ago I posted about the common opinion that the Tata Nano as an affordable vehicle for India is not a good thing in terms of pollution, congestion and further promoting a western ideal of mobility. As a counterpoint, Worldwatch Institute has their own analysis up, and rightly calls out the hypocrisy of those who have a vehicle in the developed world criticizing a very fuel efficient vehicle from the safety of their car dominated culture.

Some points to think about before criticizing (which I did), but then, I don't own a car right now, use public transit, walk and bicycle as much as possible without making myself into a martyr.

People in Western countries and Japan—less than 15 percent of the world’s population—own two-thirds of all passenger and commercial motor vehicles in the world.

Westerners not only have far more cars, but the distances they drive are also 3–4 times longer on average than those of Indians and Chinese.

This is not to say that the article lets India and China and the rest of the world off the hook, since "transportation has the fastest growing carbon emissions of any economic sector." They call on all countries to examine how transportation is approached, not just for efficiency and alternative fuels, but also for exploring ways to reduce the need to drive and driving distances as well as improving non-driving options by providing better mass transit and biking and walking facilities.

And as is reiterated frequently, " The change needed is more than a matter of technology," it's about policy, changing consumer behaviors and dealing with established industry interests for the betterment of all.