The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that the world needs to adopt measures to reduce carbon emissions. This is in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming to pre-industrial levels, limiting it up to 1.5° Celsius.
To ensure a reduction in global warming, energy transition, and limiting consumption of energy, are the need of the hour. The transport sector uses a huge chunk of energy in the form of fuels (petroleum and diesel, derived from fossil energy). This demands adequate measures for energy conservation, for which public transport systems could be a solution.
Post-1991, as a result of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, the consumption pattern of India has seen a tremendous change. As per the new International Monetary Fund(IMF) report, the income levels and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have increased, post-economic reforms in 1991. This changed the lifestyle patterns of individuals. They started to buy expensive commodities, thus enhancing luxury and standard of living.
For example, in my own home town, I can see people have more vehicles than the number of members in their family. Those who used bicycles are now driving cars, with bikes or scooters for their children. Initially, it was thought that the convenience offered by private vehicles would be efficient. As the market for the auto industry developed in India, the production, as well as consumption, increased. However, convenience led to a sedentary lifestyle and impacted the environment negatively. For this, the use of public transport can help both, the environment and activity levels of people.
A study by the Central Pollution Control Board brings forth some peculiar issues concerning the urban environment. The report emphasises that urbanisation is leading to various environmental concerns. With an increased rate of urbanisation and people migrating to urban areas, the burden on transportation has increased. Accordingly, this deteriorates air quality in the cities, and traffic leads to congestion, which is becoming a cause of road accidents. Also, in India, the infrastructure is not adequate.
However, the problem of pollution and congestion can be solved through the enhanced use of public transportation, like buses, metros, local trains, autos and so on. The public transportation system is not only efficient for the conservation of energy but also helps for a relatively safer journey.
The metros in Delhi, Kolkata and other states are less time consuming, cheaper, safer and relatively climate-friendly, if compared to private transport. Therefore, leaders all over the world are emphasising the use of public transport to reduce carbon emissions, which are emitted by vehicles.
Although, along with this, there is a need for public transport systems to use natural gas or electric energy, simultaneously reducing the use of petrol and diesel for fuel.
But, to cover a broader dimension, afforestation is the best way forward. The more we preserve greenery, the more we can make reverse the effects of climate change.