Transport sector pollution.

ISLAMABAD -- Last week, in the first part of this series, we took a broad view of the air pollution issue, especially in Punjab, where it occupies critical conditions every year.

In this space, we will specifically discuss the contribution of vehicles to the air pollution and discuss public policy issues in controlling the pollution.

Interestingly, one can interpret data in two opposite directions; the lenient view would be to say that 32% of the times (186 days per year), air pollution in Lahore has been within satisfactory limits; the other view and a rather harsh one would be that air pollution has been unsatisfactory 68% of the times.

Transport sector's share in air pollution worldwide varies from 20% to 70% depending on countries, locations and social conditions. In Lahore, the transport sector's share has been reported to be 40% of the total; within transport sector, 69% of the air pollution comes from motorcycles.

This is rather strange keeping in view the large population of heavier vehicles like cars, buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles.

Vehicle population in Lahore and generally in Punjab and the whole country has been increasing. In Lahore alone, vehicle population increased from 2.39 million in 2011 to 6.29 million in 2021, of which 4.8 million are motorcycles and the rest are other vehicles like cars, trucks, buses, etc.

According to traffic police and other sources, it has been reported that 40% of the vehicles create smog, which is a very large and alarming percentage. There is no justification for scepticism in these numbers keeping in view the ongoing smog situation.

It may appear on the surface that motorcycles may be producing much less pollution. The large number of motorcycles being a separate issue, the individual motorcycle produces more air pollution than a car, especially the newer cars.

Motorcycles for price and space reasons in the developing countries could not induct new pollution control technologies as motor cars have. As a result, motorcycles cause more emissions than cars.

Specifically speaking, motorcycles emit 13% more CO2, 36% more NOx and 335% more hydrocarbons. Numbers may have changed over the years to the detriment of motorcycles due to continuing technology changes and the induction of newer cars.

And the story of two-stroke motorcycle is even much more verse. Two-stroke motorcycle manufacturing has been banned in Pakistan and rightly so.

Pollution control guidelines

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