Pollution, in its various forms, is one of the biggest challenges of our time. India, as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, faces an even greater challenge balancing economic development and environmental protection. In this article, we focus on strategies for reducing air pollution in major Indian cities, with a specific focus on transportation-related emissions. From promoting market-based emissions trading to increasing the use of alternative fuels, we explore the steps that can be taken to create a cleaner and healthier environment.
Decarbonization of the Transportation Sector
The use of low carbon fuels in the transportation sector should be a top priority for the Indian authorities. Road transportation accounts for 90% of total energy consumption and 13.5% of CO2 emissions in the country. Decarbonization efforts should include private vehicles and commercial trucks. The use of alternative fuels such as auto LPG is recommended to reduce emissions.
Electrification of Rail Lines
To reduce freight road transport emissions, India must aim to fully electrify its rail lines. Current electrification levels meet 54% of passenger demand and 65% of freight demand, but more funding is needed to meet targets.
Urban planning should focus on transit-oriented development to reduce the number of cars on the road. Housing, employment, and services should be located near public transportation nodes and pedestrian and non-motorized transportation modes should be encouraged.
Discouraging Private Car Use
Policies should be implemented to discourage private car use, such as higher taxes and stricter regulations. The cost of driving and parking cars should be increased, particularly for high-carbon liquid fossil fuels. Carpooling should also be encouraged.
Expansion of the RO-RO Service
The Indian Railways’ RO-RO service should be expanded to other major cities to reduce traffic congestion and emissions. Heavy trucks and lorries can be loaded onto railway wagons, reducing emissions caused by stop-and-go traffic flow.
Market-Based Emissions Trading
India should promote market-based emissions trading mechanisms to limit emissions. The government sets an emissions cap and businesses can buy and sell permits to operate within the cap. Companies without enough permits must reduce emissions or pay for others’ emissions.
To reduce pollution, more trees and vegetation should be planted in cities, along with the encouragement of renewable energy sources and eco-friendly products. Green building design and construction practices should also be encouraged.
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