Context: ● Congested streets and polluted air are common experiences in India’s metropolises. Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad. ● India’s road transport emissions are small in global comparison but is increasing exponentially. The Global Carbon Project reports that India’s carbon emissions are rising more than two times as fast as the global rise in 2018. ● 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. Factors: ● Climate action requires an understanding of how emissions vary with spatial context. Income and urbanisation are the key determinants of travel distance and travel mode choice and, therefore, commuting emissions. ● The way cities are built and the design of public transit are critical for low-carbon mobility systems. ● Average per capita commuting emissions are highest for the most affluent districts, which are predominantly urban, and that heavily use four-wheelers for commuting. In contrast, average per capita commuting emissions are lowest for Indian districts that are poor, and commuting distances are short and rarely use three-wheelers. Way forward Focusing on well-being: ● Mayors and 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. ● According to the recent National Family Health Survey (2015-16), nearly 30% of all men are overweight or obese in southwest Delhi, but only 25% in Thiruvananthapuram and 13% in Allahabad. These data correlate with high reliance of car use in Delhi and low demand for walking. RACE IAS www.raceias.com Page 42 of 74 ● Increase in cycling will lower chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, while also abating emissions. Car use, in contrast, correlates with higher rates of diabetes. ● Fuel price increases, congestion charges or parking management could be a strategy that improves the well-being of individuals living in urban areas. Technology transition: ● India should double down in its strategy to transition to electric two and three-wheelers. ● India is the third-largest market for automobiles and is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers in two- and three- wheelers and Indian companies can take a leading role in switching to electric vehicles. This will also help in transforming India’s vision of ‘Make in India’. City planning: ● Compact cities improve accessibility and reduce emissions from transport and even the building sector. Most Indian cities are already very dense, with few benefits expected by further high-rise. ● City managers should ensure that existing urban areas provide short routes and fast access to schools, hospitals and jobs, otherwise, residents would be required to travel long distances. Providing access to public service, choosing rapid transit over car driving in cities and supporting the rise of electric two and three-wheelers will help drive India to a modern and low-carbon transport system fit for the 21st century.