UPSC MAINS 2019 : Need For A Low-Carbon Transport System Policy In India

Need For A Low-Carbon Transport System Policy In India

Topic : Need For A Low-Carbon Transport System Policy In India

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3: Ecology & Environment


Low-Carbon Sustainable Transport System policy’,

Need For A Low-Carbon Transport System Policy In India

catalyses the necessary transformation initiatives alongside governments to address climate change. These initiatives envisage a sustainable mobility framework that is contextual and is suited to the geographical, social and economic needs of our country and citizens.  

  • 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.
  • Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad.


What is ‘low-carbon transport system policy’?

  • The low-carbon transport system policy is a system demonstrating ‘alternating fuels’ which can reduce emissions while helping to meet the increasing demand for global transportation.
  • It ensures for the production of low carbon transport fuels in a sustainable manner, with a low or negative footprint on the ecosystems.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Low-carbon development is essential to reduce adverse effects of climate change, as well as maximise the opportunity to advance to green, sustainable energy, technology and manufacturing.
  • The bulk of future emissions from the developing world are likely to come from the transport sector, making it a critical sector for climate adaptation and mitigation.
  •  Given its strong relationship with development, improved transport systems can provide significant co-benefits, such as a reduction in the urban air pollution that affects millions of people
  • Sustainable transport provides added benefits for women, including better access to economic opportunities, education and health services


Transport Emissions in India:

  • 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.
  • 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
  • The unplanned cities and lack of designed transport infrastructure, are critical for low-carbon mobility systems.
  • 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.


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

A)Technology Transition:

  • Automobile:India is the third­ largest market for auto­mobiles; about 25 million internal combustion engines were sold in 2017, including about 20 million two ­wheelers. India should double down on its strategy to transition to elec­tric two and three­ wheelers. Creating a more favorable market both for consumers and industry as ultra-low emission vehicles.
  • Sustainable biofuels:Promoting the use of sustainable biofuels is an important part of the development of a low carbon transport system policy.
  • Freight and Heavy Transport Industry:Determination of the best incentives – regulation, support for investment or best practice – to achieve significant reductions in emissions.
  • Railways: Promotion of electrification of the rail network for improved energy efficiency in rail operations.


B)   Promoting lower carbon choices:

  • 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.
  • 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.


C)  Market mechanisms to encourage low-carbon transport system policy:

  • Fiscal Measures:  Incentivising fuel-efficient vehicle purchases, encouraging more fuel-efficient behavior and potentially encouraging lower-carbon transport choices through fiscal measures.
  • Promotion through trading systems: Trading systems are particularly relevant to international emissions, such as those from aviation and shipping.
  • Public Transport Infrastructure:Making public transport affordable through substantial investment in railways and buses and critical infrastructures. Providing rapid transit over car driving.


D)  Focus on well-being:

  • Mayors and town planners should organize cities around pu­blic transport and cycling, thereby improving mobility for many, while limiting car use.
  • Uptake of non-motorized transport emerges as a sweet spot of sustainable development, resulting in both lower emissions and better public health in cities.


Need for Electric Vehicles in India:

  • Climate change-Problem of rapid global temperature increase has created the need for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the associated emissions.
  • Rapid urbanization-Economic development leads to rapid urbanization in emerging nations as rural populations move non-agricultural sectors in cities creating environmental problems.
  • Energy security-India imports oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel.
  • EVs can reduce dependence on imported crude oil promoting India’s energy security.
  • Innovation-It will encourage cutting edge technology in India through adoption, adaptation, and research and development. EVs manufacturing capacity will promote global scale and competitiveness.
  • Employment-Promotion of EVs will facilitate employment growth in a sun-rise sector.
  • Clean and Low carbon Energy-The shift towards renewable energy sources has led to cost reduction from better electricity generating technologies. This has introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids.
  • Cutting edge Battery Technology-Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging.


 What are the key benefits of low-carbon transport system policy?  

urban low-carbon transport system

  • Reducing CO2 from the environment
  • Balancing the ecosystem components
  • Reduce fuel consumption for transport
  • Promoting sustainable transport around the globe
  • Cheap cost of transportation for goods and services
  • Minimize the climate change impacts



Reducing CO2 emissions of road transport leverages multiple co-benefits, for example, improving air quality and increasing physical activity, which are critical for well-being, particularly in urban areas.


Way Forward

  • 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.


Sample Question:

What are the prospects of low carbon transport in India?  How can electric vehicles help to Mitigate climate change? 250 words



Need For A Low-Carbon Transport System Policy In India infograph