City and town planners in India are still at sea as far as the concept of low-carbon development is concerned. Carbon footprint reduction is a primary agenda not only for the developed countries, but even for the industrial policy makers in the developing world. The concept of tradable energy certificates is being implemented in Indian industrial landscape. The unfortunate part is that these mindset is yet to transcend to town planning division.
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There are a slew of carbon consulting and advocacy organizations which have gone global with their agenda of low-carbon city planning & development – descending upon the major markets like India to tap the $800 billion low-carbon market. Carbon footprint tools are being developed in a hurry (some in collaboration with major IT companies) – These low-carbon master-planning tool can be leveraged to reduce the carbon footprint of cities over a period of time.
Future of Indian cities: Next 2 decades
Any low-carbon master plan will take at least 15 -20 years to be implemented in totality – According to Mckinsey Global Institute, India’s GDP would have grown by more than 5 times by that time and the cities would be contributing 70% of this growth. This translates into more than 68 cities in 2030 with a population of more than 1 million as compared to 42 such cities today – this also means the creation of 700 – 900 million square meters of office and residential space - paving of 2.5 billion square meter of roads – 7400 kms of metros and subways.
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The worrying part is not whether India would be able to achieve the above milestones, but the fact that any construction of even a smaller magnitude would be a disastrous proposition for the environment – alarming levels of carbon emissions from India urban development projects. The translates into a great opportunity for low-carbon development market – making India the fastest growing low-carbon market in the world growing from $23 billion in 2009 to $135 billion in 2020 (6.1 % of the global market) – According to the HSBC Global Research.
The major drivers of growth…
According to the same research, energy-efficiency solutions will hog the maximum limelight and will see an investment of $77 billion. The other major areas of impetus towards a sustainable low-carbon city will be..
- Improvement of industrial transport and building efficiencies
- Creation and implementation of energy conservation building codes
- Adoption of environmental forecasting tools – which will accurately forecast the consumption of water and power by the residents of the city – An example is the Berkeley Lab’s road-mapping tools which is being evaluated by Pune and Jaipur
- Adopt IT in greater measure to monitor, analyze and respond to energy and habitat related problems in real time – IBM and Cisco have been the early proponents of this approach
- Utilization of local resources for developing future low-carbon cities – long distance transportation is a high-carbon exercise
- Creation of micro-grids which would offset the power consumption from the national thermal grid
- Finally, the adoption of smart grids by low-carbon Indian cities – this would also expedite the adoption of electric vehicles.
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Apart from the above segments, in relation to the smart cities, “IT can help manage supply and demand holistically using local resources,” says Chandrakant Patel, senior research fellow at Hewlette Packard Laboratories in California.