Launched in 2010 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India was designed to forge a strong link between India’s national climate change policy and efforts to develop and improve transport systems in cities. Taking into account the requirements of India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, the project aimed to build institutional capacity in urban areas, with the goal of improving mobility for the local population, lowering CO2 emissions, and creating what was known as “smart cities.” Both local and national policy makers participate in this process, including research institutions (such as the Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology and CEPT University), consultants, municipal authorities, and other experts.
Implemented by the UNEP Transport Unit in Kenya, UNEP DTU Partnership in Denmark and partners in India, the five-year, 2.49 million € project is funded by the German government’s International Climate Initiative in consultation with the government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). Key local partners include the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, and CEPT University in Ahmedabad.
When the project began, India was the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and its transport sector was the second largest contributor to the country’s CO2 emissions. The transport sector was also India’s leading consumer of fossil fuels and was responsible for traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and road fatalities, especially in urban areas.
In order to make India’s expanding transport sector more sustainable, policy-making institutions and planners needed to have the knowledge, data and tools that make it possible to build transport systems that would both help mitigate climate risks and meet growing transport needs. This project aimed to help create that enabling environment by providing targeted training, detailed analysis, and methodological tools that would contribute to Indian government’s efforts to design low-carbon transport systems.
Focusing on both transport and development, Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India simultaneously addressed the overarching issues of climate change on both national and local levels. The project was based on the idea that mobility objectives needed to incorporate other development goals, such as improvement in equality, safety and environment. For this reason, the project brought together not only professionals from the domain of transport planning, but also experts on social inclusion, gender, safety and climate change. While this hybrid approach to problem-solving could have added complexity, the project was guided by the belief that the benefits of low carbon transport solutions would be greater if they were informed by social and gender realities. This multi-disciplinary approach aimed to create transport planning that could truly improve the lives of people in India, especially the poor.
One of the project’s central activities was helping three Indian cities (Udaipur, Rajkot, and Visakhapatnam) prepare Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans (LCMPs). These plans factored in a wide range of variables, using a detailed analytic approach. LCMPs analyzed business-as-usual trends in mobility demand, as well as indicators for accessibility, inclusiveness, environment, and CO2 emissions. Using this data, the plans suggested alternative sustainable scenarios and strategies that would help achieve both climate and development goals. The lessons learned from implementing LCMPs were then used to revise the MoUD’s default transport planning guide for all Indian cities: The Comprehensive Mobility Planning (CMP) toolkit. Cities had to use the CMP in order to access funds for implementing sustainable urban transport projects. Applicable to all Indian cities, the revised toolkit was a major step forward from conventional transport planning towards low carbon mobility.
Capacity-building activities included organizing stakeholders’ consultations, workshops and roundtable sessions that encouraged a constructive exchange of information and ideas, and helped enable existing institutions transition towards a low carbon mobility pathway.
The overall goal of Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India was twofold: on the national level, the project aimed to create an enabling policy environment for building a sustainable transport network; and on a local level, the project aimed to increase cities’ capacity to improve mobility while lowering CO2 emissions. As a result of this effort, the project's expected outcomes were: