[Answered] “An effective response to prevent climate change and reduce air pollution is to make investment in urban mobility.” Discuss.


Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss the status of transport Emissions in India. What are benefits of investing in greener and sustainable urban mobility? How Low-carbon Transport System Policy is a way to tackle the problem of transport emissions. Conclusion. Way forward.

Transport system and vehicular emissions are one of the major factor behind climate change and rise in air pollution. Globally, the transport sector accounts for a quarter of total emissions, out of which three quarters are from road transport. As per the report by UNFCCC, without disruptive action, transport emissions can be expected to grow from 7.7 Gt to around 15Gt by 2050. Thus, initiative like Fame India scheme is critical. Thus investment for low carbon and greener transport would help in reducing climate change and air

Transport Emissions in India:

  1. As per the Global Carbon Project Report, though India’s road transport emissions are small in global comparison, it is increasing exponentially, two times as fast as the Global rise in 2018.
  2. Patterns of road transport, however, diverge widely between cities and districts. Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad.
  3. A study published in Environmental Research Letters, on the basis of Indian Census of 2011, reports that income and urbanization are key determinants of travel distance and travel choice and therefore commuting emissions.
  4. Average commuting emissions and average per capita commuting emissions is highest for urban areas in India than suburban areas in contrast to that of the United States.

Benefits of investing in greener and sustainable urban mobility:

  1. The low-carbon transport system can reduce emissions while helping to meet the increasing demand for global transportation.
  2. It ensures for the production of low carbon transport fuels in a sustainable manner, with a low or negative footprint on the ecosystems.
  3. It also provides for economically viable infrastructure and operation that offers safe and secure access for both persons and goods whilst reducing short and long term negative impacts on the local and global environments.
  4. The planned cities and designed transport infrastructure, are critical for low-carbon mobility systems. 

Low-carbon Transport System Policy to tackle the problem of transport emissions:

  1. Technology Transition: India is the third­ largest market for auto­mobiles. India should double down on its strategy to transition to elec­tric two and three­ wheelers. Creating a more favourable market both for consumers and industry as ultra-low emission vehicles.
  2. Freight and Heavy Transport Industry: Determination of the best incentives- regulation, support for investment or best practice to achieve significant reductions in emissions is important.
  3. Railways: Promotion of electrification of the rail network for improved energy efficiency in rail operations.
  4. Providing lower carbon public transport: Making public transport an accessible, attractive, low carbon and easy-to-use option for individuals and business.  Provide substantial financial support to the rail and bus sectors.
  5. Promotion of Alternative and Environment-Friendly Fuels: Various initiatives like Ethanol Blended Programme (EBP), National Policy on Biofuels, National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), helps in the promotion of low-carbon vehicles.
  6. Fiscal Measures: Incentivising fuel-efficient vehicle purchases, encouraging more fuel-efficient behaviour and potentially encouraging lower-carbon transport choices through fiscal measures.
  7. Promotion through trading systems: Trading systems are particularly relevant to international emissions, such as those from aviation and shipping.
  8. Focus on well-being: 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.

For India to achieve resilient and inclusive cities, it is necessary to continuously plan for a low carbon model of growth in our cities, rather than focussing on physical infrastructure for vehicle mobility alone.  The need is to build compact cities with mixed land use and integrating transport planning with land use planning. It will help in emphasizing women participation and lead to inclusive sustainable urban growth. The planners, city authorities and civil society all have to join the mission to make our cities a better place to live in.

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