Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Land Transport in India: Scenarios of the Uncertain

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, land use - planning, ridership - forecasting, ridership - forecasting, policy - sustainable, mode - mass transit


Vehicle exhaust, Two wheeled vehicles, Transportation policy, Transportation planning, Transit, Sustainable transportation, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Small cars, Scenarios, Public transit, Projections, Nonmotorized transportation, Minicars, Miniature automobiles, Mass transit, Local transit, India, Forecasting, Exhaust gases, Exhaust emissions, Energy efficiency, Decision making, Compact automobiles, Carbon dioxide, Automobile ownership, Automobile exhaust


India is experiencing rapid growth in motorization. The government and policy makers are responding to this growth by building inadequate, unsustainable infrastructure mostly geared toward private automobile owners. Because more than half the trips in India are served by public transport, and there is high usage of nonmotorized transport, the country is well poised for sustainable development. Yet policy makers must recognize this and provide an infrastructure to support it. This paper employs a bottom-up approach to explore four scenarios of growth: business as usual (BAU); energy efficiency (EE), including a large share of energy-efficient small cars; a two-wheeler world (TWW); and sustainable urban transport (SUT) with an emphasis on mass transit. These scenarios employ different, though not mutually exclusive, directions of growth that could be supported with appropriate policies. Carbon emissions would be highest under the BAU scenario, followed by the EE, TWW, and SUT scenarios. Assumptions applied to the scenarios include increasing the share of minicars, improving fuel efficiency for different types of vehicles, and reducing distances traveled for different types of vehicles, all of which significantly decreased the carbon content of fuels. This study suggests reasonable results that could come from a number of policy recommendations. More can be done to restrain the growth of emissions as policies become bolder and technologies improve.