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  • Mumbai launches a pioneering project to target carbon reduction by shifting from individual transport projects to city-level initiatives

    28 September 2010

    Mumbai city will soon tread on a new city-wide low-carbon transport path that will facilitate it to current carbon financing schemes, making it the first city in the country to leverage and earn carbon credits through an efficient public transport system.

    Launching a joint study in a two day workshop “future of carbon financing schemes for sustainable transport: Mumbai paves the way”, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Institute Veolia Environment (Paris), Veolia Transport (Paris), TRL (London) and IDDRI (Paris), will establish a methodology to suggest a new mechanism to fund sustainable low carbon transport projects in Indian cities, establish a methodology to facilitate easy access of cities in developing countries to this mechanism and test the methodology using Mumbai as a pilot city. This methodology is expected to contribute to a reversal of the current bias towards roads and to ensure that carbon costs are considered in all transport decisions.

    In his keynote address, Mr S V R Srinivas, Additional Metropolitan Commissioner for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) while highlighting the need for cleaner and better transport, called for a need for more international support to ensure that Mumbai develops in a more sustainable way. He also agreed on the notion that transport being a large contributor of CO2 should become a part of the climate change negotiations and be adequately and imaginatively funded to become sustainable.

    The workshop was attended by 40 representatives of the regional authority and international transport experts with the input of representatives from international aid agencies, including the Germany Technical Cooperation and AFD, the French aid-agency.

    Currently Mumbai – as many other cities in the world - suffers from a high level of congestion, increasing air pollution and accidents caused by a rapid growth in car ownership. To address these problems, the city authority is seeking a more sustainable transport alternative as exemplified by the Mumbai metro.
    These world class experts discussed how international investment could be harnessed to support the delivery of a city-wide low-carbon transport system. The workshop acted as a platform to launch a pioneering project to target carbon reduction by shifting from individual transport projects to city-level initiatives. The project seeks to draw heavily on local expertise to ensure that delivery is tailored to the needs of Mumbai.

    Gaëll Mainguy, Director of Scientific Publications, IVE, the Veolia environment think-tank and Caroline Edant, Veolia Transport, a leading international public transport operator, highlighted the urgency to adapt the international financial mechanisms to help develop sustainable mobility in Mumbai.

    S Sundar, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, the national policy think-tank which focuses on sustainability and climate change issues, deliberated upon the urgent need to address the funding gaps for large transport infrastructure projects in Indian cities. He noted that international funding could become an important source of funding for these projects.

    Holger Dalkmann, Programme Director from Transport Research Laboratory, an international operating research and consultancy based in UK, summarised the current opportunities for international financial support for sustainable transport. “There is increasing attention from institutions like World Bank and Asian Development Bank to support non-motorised and public transport alternatives, but there are upcoming new opportunities which could be championed by Mumbai” He said.

    Chris Dore, Director, Aether Ltd, an environmental consultancy, explained some of the complexities associated with accessing support from the range of different financing instruments. Benoit Lefèvre, Economist, IDDRI, a Paris-based think-tank which focuses on sustainable development issues that require international coordination, highlighted how the project will support Mumbai to lead the way. “Given the current climate change negotiation status there is a window of opportunity for urban transport to enter into the carbon financing arena and, thanks to this project; Mumbai has the opportunity to lead the way.” He added.

    Mumbai is currently facing a challenge with ambitious plans to develop a transit network by 2021. The metro construction project was officially launched by the Indian government in July 2006, and began in 2007. Line 1 will enter into service in 2011. By 2021, the planned metro system will have nine lines and will cover 146.5 km, including 114 km above ground and 32.5 km under ground.

    Mumbai provides a unique opportunity to evaluate the impacts of a comprehensive mobility plan in terms of GHG emissions and co-benefits by comparing the situation with a business as usual scenario. The City Government started a process applying for funding through the CDM for the Metro Rapid Transit (MRT). However, the process faces a lot of barriers and other similar projects cover a small percentage of the project costs. Therefore, CDM in its current form is not seen as an incentive to initiate sustainable transport project. The city would benefit through gaining a better understanding of the impacts of certain policies and measures to influence the negative effects of transport and contribute to reducing the effects of climate change.

    The workshop findings will support Mumbai to become a forerunner in this area of climate finance to the local benefit as well as to receive international recognition. International funding for transport projects has largely focused on physical infrastructure like roads, flyovers, parking places, etc; even transport projects that lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions have found difficult to secure financial support from global mechanisms like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which fund projects that help to reduce CO2. As of now, of the 2270 projects that have received funding from the CDM, there are only 3 transport projects.

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