Congested streets and polluted air are common experiences in India’s metropolises, although the average Indian contributes only minuscule amounts of transport-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to global climate change.
Carbon emissions from the transport sector –
- Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad.
- The Global Carbon Project reports that India’s carbon emissions are rising more than two times as fast as the global rise in 2018.
- Globally, the transport sector accounts for a quarter of total emissions, out of which three quarters are from road transport.
Studying transport emissions –
- In India, a new study finds that income and urbanisation are the key determinants of travel distance and travel mode choice and, therefore, commuting emissions.
- The way cities are built and the design of public transit are critical for low-carbon mobility systems.
- Average commuting emissions in high-emitting districts (Delhi) are 16 times higher than low-emitting districts (most districts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh).
- Average per capita commuting emissions are highest for the most affluent districts, which are predominantly urban, and that heavily use four-wheelers for commuting.
- In contrast, average per capita commuting emissions are lowest for Indian districts that are poor, and commuting distances are short and rarely use three-wheelers.
What can be done?
Two policy implications follow –
- Go electric – First, mayors and town planners should organise cities around public transport and cycling, thereby improving mobility for many, while limiting car use. Uptake of non-motorised transport emerges as a sweet spot of sustainable development, resulting in both lower emissions and better public health in cities. India is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers in two- and three-wheelers and Indian companies can take a leading role in switching to electric vehicles.
- Reduce the distance – City managers should ensure that existing urban areas provide short routes and fast access to schools, hospitals and jobs, otherwise, residents would be required to travel long distances. To achieve this aim, mayors and decision-makers need to rethink how to deliver basic services such as education and health. Building schools and hospitals matters especially for informal settlements and are critical in achieving low carbon development as well as improving the quality of life.
Way forward –
Providing access to public service, choosing rapid transit over car driving in cities and supporting the rise of electric two and three-wheelers will help drive India to a modern and low-carbon transport system fit for the 21st century.
Source – The Hindu