Green Transport is a holistic approach to transportation focused on achieving a clean low-carbon and low-pollution future. Rapidly developing countries, with their exploding car ownerships and travel rates, must focus on making transport more ecologically friendly. India in particular has great potential to reap the benefits of green transport initiatives due to its huge population and heavy reliance on motorized transport. With the recent experiment of odd and even vehicles on the roads, the pollution from transport sector has becomes everyone’s cause of worry. According to the International Energy Agency estimates, the transport sector in India would grow at average of 5.1% per year as compared to the world growth rate of 1.1%. This means addition of more cars and exceeding load on surface transport and therefore increased emissions.
The Avoid-Shift and Improve approach would best suit the aim of carbon reduction, which would include
- Avoiding the use of personal vehicles and encouraging greater use of public transport including metros in large metropolitan cities
- Shifting to non-motorized transport where possible, including smart development of walkable and bikable urban centers
- Shifting to low carbon emitting vehicles by creating an infrastructure support electric and fuel cell vehicles. Shifting to urban freight transport measures
- Improving the driving behavior by introducing the fuel economy standards as the people would be more aware and alert about maintaining a low CO2 profile (like eco-driving)
Curtailing the emissions would call for efforts like:
- Increased regulation measure like, Introduction of fuel efficiency standards, Green Cess on Petrol and Diesel
Congestion pricing in urban centers
- Increased use of ethanol blended petrol (as of now the mandatory blending limit of ethanol to petrol is set at 5% and the government has rightly taken a move this limit a bit higher to 10%). Higher production of ethanol is beneficial for mills, as they are able to sell ethanol per liter at much higher prices than sugar per kg. Uncertainty over availability of ethanol could be dealt by making EBP variable— the oil marketing companies could be given the choice to have higher targets when ethanol supply is bountiful and lower in an adverse year. The blending levels have been proposed to increase to 20% by 2017 in a phased manner
- Improved Cycling Infrastructure
- Integration with land-use planning like building public transit links first and then developing the high-density, mixed land-use around them, thereby reducing the need to travel, especially by private vehicles.
- Improved integration within and between different modes of transport, including the construction of multimodal transit stations
- Fare Integration—Enabling the public transit user to pay once for a journey involving different transit modes.
- Route Integration—facilitating logical interchange points where passengers are able to transfer from one vehicle or mode to another conveniently and safely and preventing route redundancy.
- Information Integration—Enabling a ‘one-stop-shop’ for public transit users, cyclists, and walkers to gain information on any journey they wish to conduct using these modes.
India must look beyond its current state towards the type of country it hopes to become, and must find a balance between increasing wealth and prosperity, acceptable mobility and access, and low emission levels. As a developing country, without significant existing infrastructure, implementation and management of technology measures must occur simultaneously.
Associate Fellow at Pahle India Foundation
The views expressed are personal.