Low Carbon Transport in India

Traffic road with only pedestrians and bicyclists
Carfree Sunday in Chennai. Photo: ©Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

Days before the Paris Climate Conference, the results of an IKI project show how India can achieve a sustainable transport system and build cities' capacity to improve mobility while lowering CO2 emissions.

Boasting the world's second largest population, India's per capita greenhouse gas emissions remain below the world average. But population and economic growth in the last two decades have been coupled with a rapid increase in private vehicles and a switch from rail to road transport across the freight and passenger sectors.
According to 2012 data, the transport sector is responsible for 14 per cent of the country's energy related CO2 emissions, as well as for negative impacts on air quality, public health, road safety, and on sustainable urban development.

Launched in 2010 the project "Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India" was designed to connect India's national climate change policy and efforts to develop and improve transport systems in cities. It was funded with €1.9 million by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) in consultation with the government of India's Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Ministry of Urban Development and implemented by UNEP and the UNEP-DTU Partnership and key partners in India.

The low carbon transport pathway mapped out by the project consists of interventions in sustainable mobility, fuel economy, freight transport, promoting biofuels, and cleaning electricity that together have the potential of reducing India's CO2 emissions by 13 billion tonnes between 2010 and 2050.

Ligia Noronha, Director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics said on the conclusion workshop which was held as part of the 8th Urban Mobility India conference in New Delhi: "The project has focused its energies on providing the analysis and the know-how necessary to create an effective policy environment for low carbon transport on both a national and a city level. The project has, in a coordinated and systematic manner, integrated the climate agenda and its co-benefits into its promotion of sustainable transport development in India."

Empty conference hall

Ms. Annett Baessler, Counsellor Economic and Environmental Affairs in the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Delhi, addressed in her speech the contribution of the Indo-German cooperation towards a more sustainable urban transportation system. She highlighted the successful work of the IKI funded project and the newly started project "Sustainable Mobility Initiative India", implemented by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

One of the project's key components was the development of a methodology for creating Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans for cities and its implementation in three pilot locations – Visakhapatnam, Rajkot and Udaipur. The process included analyzing trends in mobility demand and charting sustainable pathways for increased accessibility and inclusiveness of the transport system, which would, at the same time, reduce CO2 emissions.

For example, the Udaipur comprehensive mobility plan, developed under the project, employed a mixed land-use approach, including measures to increase residential density along public transit corridors and create non-motorized-transport-friendly neighbourhoods.

The plan intends to increase the safety of walking and cycling, increase the accessibility to public transport from 69 to 83 per cent, and reduce CO2 emissions by a million tonnes. <br/> The plan developed by Rajkot, based on identification of the city's priority routes, envisions a 20 per cent decrease in traffic accidents, a shortening of average travel time by 36 per cent, and a decrease in CO2 emissions of 600,000 tonnes by 2031.

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