Mainstreaming inclusive and low carbon transport planning for Indian cities

In India, the transport sector is the second largest contributor of CO2 emissions. A large share of these emissions can be attributed to motorized vehicles, which are an increasing presence on the urban landscape. Excessive growth in motorized transport not only aggravates road congestion, air pollution and noise, but also increases accidents, a disproportionate number of which involve pedestrians and cyclists. The focus on motorized transport also increases social inequities that are linked to the ability to get from one place to another. In Indian cities, these challenges are typically addressed with a mix of local, state and central government policies. However, this kind of institutional setup generally does not produce socially optimum solutions.

The Promoting Low Carbon Transport in India project was designed to provide a platform to bridge these institutional challenges. Launched in 2010 by UNEP and implemented by the UNEP DTU Partnership, the project works with local and national policy makers and engages with experts in transport planning, safety, social inclusivity, air pollution and climate change. Funded by the German Government’s International Climate Initiative in consultation with the Government of India’s Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), the project links the urban transport requirements of India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change with urban transport renewal and the creation of smart cities. A number of local partners are working with the project, including research institutes (Indian Institute of Management, the Indian Institute of Technology, CEPT University), consultants, experts and the municipal authorities of Vishakhapatnam, Rajkot and Udaipur.

One of the project’s key elements consists of helping three Indian cities prepare Low Carbon Comprehensive Mobility Plans (LCMPs). This process includes analyzing business-as-usual trends in mobility demand and their implications, using indicators for accessibility, inclusiveness, environment, and CO2 emissions. Using a sustainability approach, alternative scenarios are then generated to identify strategies that help achieve climate and development goals. The lessons learned from LCMP implementation have been used to revise the MoUD’s Comprehensive Mobility Planning (CMP) toolkit, which is the default transport planning guide for all Indian cities.

One of the project’s distinctive attributes is the notion that mobility objectives need to incorporate other goals, such as improvements in equity, safety and environment. To promote a broader planning vision, the project has brought together professionals from different fields including transport planning, urban planning, social inclusion, gender, safety and climate change. While this hybrid approach to problem-solving can add complexity, the benefits of low carbon transport solutions will be greater if they are informed by social and gender realities. This multi-disciplinary approach aims to create transport planning that can truly improve the lives of people in India, especially the poor.

The project is being implemented in three very different city environments: coastal, industrial and touristic, gathering insights that may be very helpful for other Indian cities of similar size or attributes. These three cities—Vishakhapatnam, Rajkot and Udaipur—can serve as prototypes for creating some 100 other smart cities in India.

Ultimately, scaling up these solutions to other parts of India depends on local stakeholders becoming part of the process, seizing the ideas and making them their own. Once this happens in these three cities, the problem-solving process will be sustained, and hopefully, replicated in other parts of India.

You can learn more about the project by visiting the project website at
19 AUGUST 2018