In this Issue

Dear Readers,

In November 2012, the Promoting Low-Carbon Transport in India project will celebrate two years of working towards building a policy environment that will ensure long-term sustainable transport in India. Over these two years, the project has taken on the multifaceted challenges of establishing viable low-carbon transport frameworks at both the local and national scale.

In our last issue, we focused on the local or micro level aspects, primarily looking at plans and methodologies for small cities. For this current issue, our newsletter examines issues at the macro level: how transport projects and approaches impact India on a national scale, and how they will shape the future. Using case studies and detailed analysis, articles examine different approaches to a low-carbon pathway, and how to set priorities that will make it possible to stay on course. We report on workshops that offered participants the chance to address specific transport issues and tackle policy obstacles in order to advance India’s sustainable transport agenda. Finally, we examine Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)and how they can help promote low-carbon modes of transport.

The highlights section of the newsletter addresses an important development at the micro level, and provides information on the third city that will be collaborating with the project team to develop a LCMP.

Articles in this newsletter include:

  • An analysis of different scenarios for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting climate change goals.

  • A case study of dedicated freight corridors in India and what current projects can teach us about the future.

  • A look at experiences with regard to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in India, in particular the 45km network in Ahmedabad.

  • The outcomes of the August workshop on strategies for making low-carbon transport a reality in India.

  • A report from the workshop on Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans that took place last April in New Delhi.

  • Information on NAMAs and how they apply to transport projects.

Additionally, a listing of upcoming events and latest project publications can be found at the end of this newsletter.

Launched in November 2010, Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India is a collaboration between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of India and the International Climate Initiative of Germany (ICI).

We hope you enjoy reading this third edition of our project newsletter and that you find its contents useful and informative. We invite you to continue visiting our for the latest news and events.

Yours Sincerely,

Rob Jong,
Head, UNEP Transport Unit


Udaipur joins Rajkot and Vishakhapatnam in the Development of LCMPs

The city of has joined Rajkot and Vishakhapatnam in the Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India project, and will soon begin developing a Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plan (LCMP). After meeting with representatives from the UNEP Risoe Centre (URC) and a local partner organization, Udaipur’s Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) agreed to collaborate with URC via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The memorandum has been sent to the state government for endorsement.

Organized by UIT, the meeting provided an opportunity for URC to share details of the project with key stakeholders and line departments. While the Udaipur Municipal Council (UMC) is the main civic body, UIT is responsible for Udaipur’s overall development, implementing projects and plans in both rural and urban areas. In addition to UMC and UIT, a number of line departments are involved in delivering urban services and developing infrastructure.

Known as the “City of Lakes,” Udaipur lies in western India, in the state of Rajasthan. Founded in 1559, the capital of the Princely State of Mewar is strategically located in a saucer-shaped basin in the Ahar River Valley, surrounded by the hills of Aravali Range. With its many lakes and picturesque setting, it is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists

A Portfolio of Options for the Transport Sector:  Finding the Right Mix for Emissions Reduction   
Feature Article by Subash Dhar, UNEP Risoe Centre and P.R. Shukla, IIM, Ahmedabad

While India’s transport sector accounted for only 9.6% of total energy related GHG emissions in 2000, swift growth in vehicle use is causing emissions to increase at a rapid pace. Between 2005 and 2009 emissions increased at a rate of 8% as compared to 3% between 2000 and 2005. For policy makers in the Indian transport sector, this growth poses multiple challenges.  Besides the impact on climate change, these escalating numbers raise questions on how to offer wider mobility access at affordable rates, limit the health impacts of air pollution, reduce traffic congestion, and dependence on fossil fuels.

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) outlines eight National Missions for achieving key climate change objectives. Under the NAPCC, the National Mission on sustainable habitat covers emission reduction strategies from urban transport. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) which is the nodal ministry for the National Mission on sustainable habitat, is addressing a wide range of issues including integrated land use and transport planning for improving access to public and non-motorised transport; improved walking and cycling infrastructure; safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians; and reduced dependency on personal motorized vehicles. At a national level government has also proposed a roadmap for improving vehicle efficiency. Policies on intercity transport aim to increase rail use by improving efficiency, raising the average speed, building dedicated freight corridors, and encouraging more intermodal freight transport.  For transporting passengers between major cities, high-speed rail links are being planned.  


The NAPCC and other national policies lay down the national priorities for India within the transport sector. In the Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India project, India’s transport priorities have been analysed over a time period ending in 2050, using an integrated model framework, comprising GCAM a global model for analysing climate change, and ANSWER MARKAL, an energy system model for India. Various sustainability actions have been assessed using a global climate vision of 2°C to create a sustainable low-carbon scenario (Figure 1). This sustainable scenario is then compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario that assumes robust economic growth would result in a per capita GDP of US $15,131 in 2050.  

Figure 1:  Scenario Architecture for Low-Carbon Transport

The sustainable low-carbon scenario demonstrates the same mitigation level for India as a conventional path relying on a high carbon price corresponding to the 2° C global vision.

Business as Usual: Emissions and Energy Demand

Currently, the transport sector depends primarily on oil. Under a BAU scenario, this dependence will continue, and despite a minor diversification into natural gas, electricity, and biofuels (Figure 2), emissions will rise.  By 2050, transport emissions will reach around 1 billion tCO2—a nine-fold increase from 2000.

Compressed Natural Gas

With the expansion of gas distribution in India’s major cities, compressed natural gas (CNG) has become increasingly popular. Considered a clean fuel, CNG use in buses and taxis is required by law in a number of Indian cities. In the long term, as CNG becomes increasingly available across India and vehicle stock of CNG vehicles improve, its advantages over diesel and petrol in terms of cost effectiveness will lead to increased demand for CNG.


Electricity is the second most utilized transportation energy source, and is primarily used by the rail transport sector. Railway electricity demand will grow in the future due to increasing electrification of existing railway operations. The construction of dedicated rail freight corridors and high-speed passenger trains will also increase electricity demand.  Another driver will be metro systems, which will become a major urban transport mode in Indian cities.  In the longer term (i.e., beyond 2030), electricity demand will also rise due to a higher share of electric cars and electric-two wheelers in passenger transport.


Figure 2:  Energy Demand for Transport under BAU



The demand for biofuels in 2007 was less than 1% of liquid fuel demand. Under a BAU scenario, biofuel supply will mainly be from domestic sources, as such, the supply for biofuels will increase to 12 Mtoe in 2050, or 5% of overall demand for transportation fuels.

Emissions Reduction in the Transport Sector

In the sustainable low-carbon scenario, sustainable mobility, sustainable logistics, and fuel economy ( theIndian government’s three key priorities) will bring down emissions by around 30% from BAU in 2050 (Figure 3). However, in a low-carbon world, two other wedges would become important:  electric vehicles and biofuels. As electricity production becomes decarbonised, electric vehicles will become a major low-carbon option. Under this scenario, biofuels would also play an important role.  Sustainable population growth would make it possible to use land for fuel instead of food.  Higher carbon prices will encourage more innovation, giving rise to second-generation biofuels that would be less dependent on land use.  As biofuels become an increasingly viable option, biofuel will be imported instead of fossil fuel.


Figure 3: Key Wedges for Mitigation in the Transport Sector


Transport sector emissions can be reduced by pursuing a broad portfolio of technologies and measures, some of which are already a priority for India, given their clear contribution to developmental goals. As mentioned electric vehicles and biofuels are two more technology paths that can play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions and furthering developmental goals. However, in order to reap the benefits of these options in the near term and to avoid a high-emission pathway, finance and technology transfer will be essential.


India Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 2012.

Authors’ estimates based on growth in energy demand.

Rail is widely accepted as more sustainable than roads.

The economic growth between 2010 and 2032 is calculated a compound annual growth rate of 8%, based on GoI projections.

All US $ are as of 2005.

CO2 prices are increasingly steadily and will reach US $200 by 2050. These prices are a result of global GCAM modelling with a 450-ppm stabilization scenario.

MoUD has recommended metros for cities with over 2 million inhabitants. According to the 2011 census, there are 19 cities with a population of over 2 million, and an additional 34 with over 1 million.

  The CO2 intensity of electricity in 2050 is expected to go down from 0.64 million tCO2/Gwh to just 0.08 million tCO2/Gwh in the 2°C scenario.


Fast Track to Energy Efficiency: India’s Western Freight Corridor

DFC Policy Summary

A high-speed rail corridor between Delhi and Mumbai could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and revolutionize freight transport in India, according to a policy summary published by the Promoting Low-Carbon Transport in India project. The study shows that the Delhi-Mumbai Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), which is currently under construction, could potentially reduce CO2 emissions by almost 170 million tonnes over a 30-year period. Moreover, by 2046, the DFC could reduce annual CO2 emissions by nearly 81 percent when compared to a business-as-usual scenario and as much as 97 percent if India follows a low-carbon energy path.

India’s recent economic growth has put increased pressure on the country’s transportation system, and the freight sector is no exception. The existing freight network is saturated, and investments in infrastructure are essential to sustaining economic development. The Delhi-Mumbai DFC, also known as the Western DFC, is one of six planned DFC projects designed to quickly and efficiently transport large amounts of freight between India’s two largest cities. The Western DFC will not only offer an energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly solution for long-distance freight, but its high-speed rails will also make it possible to safely convey goods from one city to the other in half the time currently required.

The study stresses the importance of providing support structures, such as freight terminals, specialized wagons, and stacking containers, to ensure the success of the DFC project. To help meet this challenge and further stimulate economic development, an industrial corridor will be created to run parallel to the DFC. The industrial corridor, as a private-public partnership, will not only provide employment and boost local economic development, but will also provide a secondary transport system that will link the DFC to ports, airports and smaller towns and cities.

The policy summary is based on a larger study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. To download a copy of the DFC policy summary, please visit the publications section of this newsletter.


Getting Everyone on the Bus—Social Inclusion and BRT

While India has made major in-roads in developing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in large cities, there are still many challenges to overcome, particularly in terms of low-income ridership. A recent policy summary published by the Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India project showed that BRT is primarily used by middle-income riders, and only a small percentage of the urban poor are profiting from this public transport system. The study points out that integrated walking and cycling infrastructure, as well as better overall planning could increase low-income BRT ridership, and thus overall ridership as well.

Originally set to examine BRT in five Indian cities, the study primarily focuses on Ahmedabad, which has the most complete BRT system with a total network of approximately 45 kilometers. Pune, Delhi, Jaipur and Indore’s systems are discussed to a lesser degree, as they are in the early stages of development. While Ahmedabad’s system is increasingly popular, it mostly serves the middle-income population. A survey of 1,040 BRT users showed that only 13.7 percent of riders came from households with incomes of upto Rs. 5,000 per month (less than 100 USD).

BRT Policy Summary

To get a better sense of transit habits among the urban poor, a survey of 580 low-income households from slums and informal settlements around the city was conducted. This survey demonstrated that the city’s poor take fewer, shorter trips and rely heavily on non-motorized transport (NMT) modes, such as walking and cycling. For this population, the BRT fares are too expensive and the system is still inaccessible. The study urges BRT projects to be more socially inclusive by adapting fare systems and integrating NMT infrastructure (bike lanes, pedestrian paths, etc.). As the study’s policy summary puts it, “if the accessibility issues of a city were seen from a perspective of a poor working woman then the options would be amiable enough to take care of everyone in urban society.”

The case study looks at the various challenges of BRT at both a national (macro) and a city (micro, or local) level, covering policy and implementation issues as well. Other recommendations include harmonizing the existing municipal bus system with the BRT system, and managing on-street parking policy. Facing these challenges, the study concludes, will help India’s BRT systems to reach full potential both in terms of fighting climate change and improving the lives of urban populations.

The policy summary is based on a larger study conducted by the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad. To download a copy of the BRT policy summary, please visit the publications section of this newsletter.


Strategies for Incorporating Low-Carbon Transport in India

Strategies and policies for bringing together the many elements necessary to make low-carbon transport work in India were examined during a last summer. Held on 24-25 August 2012, the workshop was hosted by the Indian Institute of Management as part of UNEP’s Promoting Low-Carbon Transport in India project. Each session explored a different facet of low-carbon transport and how various strategies that have worked in the past might change the future. The workshop used case studies of completed projects, Low Carbon Mobility Plans (LCMPs) currently under development, workshop presentations and discussions amongst participants to address a variety of transport issues, given the challenges posed by development, urban growth and climate change.

Participants during the Workshop for Developing Strategies and Policies for Low Carbon Transport in India

Each session covered one primary aspect of low-carbon transport. The inaugural session addressed general topics such as the need for efficient vehicles in India’s rapidly growing cities as well as how the country can use low-carbon transport to meet climate change goals. Later sessions focused on more specific topics, such as strategies for developing freight transport by rail and subsequent emissions reductions. The pros and cons of locating coal-burning power plants close to mines were discussed, as was the efficiency of transporting coal and other goods via high-speed rail. Dr. Manoj Singh, advisor for the Transport Planning Commission, pointed out that the impact of high-speed rail depends on its use. While China has 8,000km of high-speed passenger rail, India is investing in dedicated freight corridors that are less costly and that would potentially bring more environmental and economic benefits.

Indian cities have unique transport concerns based on how they have evolved and the people who live in them. During the workshop, participants stressed the importance of integrating electric three-wheel taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, and other non-motorized transport modes into low-carbon mobility plans for buses, metros, and private vehicles. To make this possible, cooperation between government agencies is crucial. Policy making was also discussed during the workshop sessions as well as how to best bring local and national authorities together to implement and validate long-term low-carbon mobility plans.

New Delhi Capacity Building Workshop Takes a Closer Look at Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans

Synthesizing the many elements of low-carbon urban transport planning into a coherent whole was the focus of a in New Delhi last spring. The workshop, which took place at the India Habitat Centre from April 11 to 13, 2012, offered training on how to create Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans (LCMPs) that are both appropriate and functional for Indian cities. Up to four plans will be created for four Indian cities - as part of the Promoting Low-Carbon Transport in India project - using in-depth analysis while developing toolkits for implementation.

After the session was inaugurated with a speech by Dr. Sudhir Krishna, secretary of the Indian Ministry of Urban Development, Dr. Subash Dhar of UNEP-Risoe Centre offered an overview of the LCMP approach. Details on the LCMP methodology were fleshed out by Prof. Geetam Tiwari of the Indian Institute of Technology. Over the next three days, the workshop provided technical training on LCMPs, as well as a forum for discussions on a host of compelling low-carbon transport issues.

Prof. Dinesh Mohan, IIT, Delhi, Dr. Sudhir Krishna, MoUD and Dr. Subash Dhar, UNEP Risoe Centre during the Capacity Building Workshop

Technical training sessions on the LCMP approach included exercises in analyzing existing conditions, developing scenarios, prioritizing technologies, and integrating climate change factors. Meanwhile, discussions and panels highlighted important challenges specific to transport in Indian cities. Promoting bicycle use, for example, led to a discussion of how to integrate cycling infrastructure into the urban streetscape, and how street vendors can play a part in road safety. The training and certification of on-site consultants who will help in analyzing and drawing up of Comprehensive Development Plans was discussed, as well as putting in place modalities to facilitate delivery of the work in good time. Finally, funding approaches like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other innovative investment strategies were addressed.

Full Speed Ahead on Transport NAMAs

Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) are being increasingly applied to the transport sector in developing countries. A new United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) instrument that helps developing countries gear their development paths towards low-carbon growth, NAMAs are an important tool for developing sustainable transport strategies as well as boosting local economies.

To date, 47 countries from the Non-Annex I Parties to the UNFCCC have submitted NAMAs (most of which are “statements of intent”). These were submitted to the UNFCCC in response to the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements, and include submissions made through the UNFCCC registry. Information on these is available on the NAMA website:

Countries have now begun translating these statements of intent into NAMAs detailing activities and measures for implementation, while taking into account their specific country needs. At present, a large number of these activities are geared toward transport issues. An Ecofys report observed that 29% of all activities currently being developed are in the transport sector. Most of these transport activities seek to address strategy and policy development, including shifting freight from road to rail, increasing share of non-market and public transport, energy efficiency improvement, building capacity to develop NAMAs, and increasing electrical vehicle use. Other NAMA activities include measures for managing transport demand in urban areas, vehicle renovation programmes, as well as a rail system modernization project geared at increasing rail freight traffic in certain corridors.

As such, being a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, the transport sector is key to sustainable development goals. In developing countries in particular, transport is also strategically important in terms of both economic development and mobility.S


Upcoming Events in 2012

The following events related to the Low Carbon Transport in India project will take place towards the end of 2012:

1. A Roundtable on Low-carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans (LCMP): Sustainable Mobility with lower Carbon Emissions
7 December 2012, Mankshaw Centre, near Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi, 16:30 - 18:00hrs

Discussions will feature an introduction to the LCMP approach that has been developed in the project, and which is being implemented in the cities of Visakhapatnam, Rajkot and Udaipur.


  1. Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India – updated project brochure.

  2. Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India Policy Summary - Infrastructure for Low-Carbon Transport in India: A Case Study of the Delhi-Mumbai Dedicated Freight Corridor

  3. Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India Policy Summary – Low-Carbon Mobility in India and the Challenges of Social Inclusion: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Case Studies in India