Low carbon development purses a step by step approach towards carbon neutrality, urban resilience and energy security, while supporting an active green economy and stable green infrastructure. Carbon footprint is a measure of total amount of CO2 and CH4 emission of defined population, system or activity considering all relevant sources, sinks and storage with spatial and temporal boundary of population, system or activity of interest. A city that comprises of societies that consumes green technology and emits relatively low carbon as compared with present day practice to avoid adverse impact of climate change. The low carbon city movement was started in United Kingdom to consider how to lower production of CO2. Four years later in 2007 Japan introduced the concept of a low carbon society. The main idea is to reduced CO2 emissions while creating economic growth. Characteristics of low carbon city are as follows,

1)  Low carbon urban form

a) Efficient use of land through compact, mixed use and functionally balanced urban design

b) Efficient public transport network

c) Quality public spaces which are easily accessible, functional and environment friendly

2) Resource efficiency

a) Incorporating the concept of circular economy

b) Energy efficient buildings

c) Municipal waste as a resource

d) To restore and reuse water to improve urban ecological water cycle

3) Inclusive Urban government:

a) Transition from city management to city government by incorporating public participation maintaining information transparency


The first case of COVID-19 pandemic in India was reported on 30 January 2020, originating from China. As of 21st May 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare have confirmed a total 1,25,101 cases, 51,784 recoveries and 3720 deaths in the country. Due to this outbreak, all educational, commercial, transportation and industrial activities have been shut down due to lockdown observed in country starting on 24th March 2020 and still continuing with some reliefs in transportation and opening of shops and industries. As a result of stringent travel restrictions and shutting down of non-essential activities including those of air polluting sector, air quality improvement has been noted in many towns and cities across nation during lockdown. The 91 cities showed minimal pollution, as many 30 cities recorded good air quality while 61 cities recorded satisfactory air quality according to CPCB. Delhi which battles high levels of pollution shown in reduction of PM10 by 44% during lockdown. According to Centre for Science and Environment, PM 2.5 levels across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru dropped by a phenomenal 45-88% percent during the pandemic included lockdown period. As a result, in fallout in pollution, the people have been able to see distant things, like snow-capped mountains. Recently people in Bihar saw the world’s highest mountain from the village Sitamarhi. But during the lockdown 4.0 the many industrial and transportation activities were open which resulted in two-six times increase in PM 2.5 levels in six cities and four-eight times in national capital. The government and planners need to readdress the city level policies to move towards low carbon development and meet its characteristics like low carbon urban form, resource efficiency and inclusive urban government by adopting the methods and solution as follows,


1)  As of 2016, the Government of India (GoI) statistics claim 32 percent of  the country’s total electricity consumption in residential and commercial spaces. As India urbanises, this figure is set to rise. Managing the demand from building energy use while ensuring high quality of life has been a key challenge for policy makers and planners. This rising energy demand is a potential opportunity for India to set itself on a course of planned growth in building energy use.  GRIHA which is applicable to buildings with floor space of over 2,500 square metres, evaluates a building’s performance over its life cycle based on nationally accepted energy and environment principles and promote green building development. Currently, there are 1,175 projects being evaluated by GRIHA. But the question will arise that, is 1,175 green building projects sufficient in order to move towards low carbon development? The Government and planners need to reinforce the polices and programs for redesigning the building as green buildings and promote the low carbon development. Buildings can be energy efficient by using energy efficient technology like insulation, low energy lighting specification through use of CFLs and LEDs, rooftop solar energy for electricity purpose instead of coal based generated electricity, increasing percentage of glazing (i.e. windows) alternative to use air conditioning, optimising natural lights, installation of smart appliances and smart building management system. Green roof system with vertical greens can be adopted for reducing carbon emissions. Planners can recommend use energy efficient building material like Recycled steel, Spray foam insulation, thermostat radiant barrier sheathing, Bamboo plywood, insulating concrete forms, Straw bales, Plant-based polyurethane foam, cool roofing technology which reflects sunlight and keep home cools, use of plastic tiles made from waste etc. As we improve the energy efficiency of our home, we need less electricity and thus rely less on carbon-intensive power plants. This reduces our home's demand from the plant, which in turn benefits the environment by reducing the CO2 emissions.

2)  The pollutions level was decreased during pandemic lockdown in India and nature was healing and balancing itself with restriction of the vehicles movements and shutting down of industries causing pollution. But post lockdown what if we introduce the vehicle free Sunday events like in Malaysia, Amsterdam etc. and promote the use of public transport, cycling, walking in India and make citizens enjoy the vibrant streets of Indian cities. There will be two advantages firstly will help to reduce carbon emission and secondly will help to ensure the health of the citizens. In order to achieve this planner, need to redesign the streets for encouraging the people for cycling and walking. There is also need to create the vehicle free zone in public spaces and design those for only pedestrian activities just like Times Square in New York, Victoria Park in Canada and so on. For shorter trips in cities, people need to give up the use of private vehicles and take an initiative to start cycling, walking and use public transport (81% Citizens in Italy are dependent on bicycle for commuting purpose). The growth of the vehicle has been much faster than that of population. The no of registered vehicles increased from 55.5 million in 2001 to 142 million in 2011, with 195.6 million vehicles estimated in 2016. The share of public transport in India is declining which is 18%, citizen is largely dependent on private transport. There is need to adopt the alternative solution to sole this increasing problem like use of biodiesel, electric vehicle, car pooling and use of public transport at larger scale. There is need to increase the consumption of biodiesel in India which is renewable and an eco-friendly in nature. The government policy for converting vehicles to electric vehicles by 2030 need to be given importance and boosted at faster rate in order to solve the problem of GHG emission. The planners need to focus on providing solar charging station for charging the electric vehicle rather than using the electricity form thermal plants. If a 200m stretch of a road has 50 cars (one passenger per car) causing the traffic congestion, blocking the space for movement of other vehicle and burning of fuel leading to CO2 emissions. If a same problem is addressed by the use of bus which can accommodate the 50 passengers then it can solve the problem of traffic congestion, will increase space for movement and reduce the emission of CO2. Although government is trying at best to promote public transport but the citizens need to take pledge to minimise the use of private transport taking in to consideration of its negative implication on environment and start using the public transport and either commute by carpooling.

3) As we know that how important is green cover because trees are mother gift to nature and without trees no life can exist. In India only 24.39% of green cover is present in current scenario. Bhutan country is famous for green approach and is World’s greenest country and consist of 70% of forest cover and their constitution demands that minimum 60% of total land should remain under forest cover. As compared to Bhutan if any such law comes in our constitution we too can achieve and increase green percentage of our country. But we are cutting the forest for metros, urban development, industries etc. instead that why we are not focusing on creating forest cities like in China, Malaysia, Singapore and so on. This will help to save our lives, wild animals and make environment healthier. We also need to introduce terrace farming, green roof system and vertical green in order to reduce the CO2 emissions and increase green cover in Indian cities. In 2019 Ministry of Road Transport and Highways took an initiative to plant 125 crore trees on roads and highways. If every people come forward to plant 2 trees per year then also 250 crores+ trees can be planted in a year and will help to reduce GHG emissions and make our country greener.

4) There is also need to encourage waste separation by promoting recycling and composting, introduction of barter market- local people collect inorganic waste, gain green points and encash them for fresh food. Minimise waste to landfills and maximise resource potential of material, bio-waste converted to compost and using for landscape. Minimize use of local water resources, adopt retrofitting water conservation method in order to reduce water consumption, eliminate waste and leakage, recycling water up to 80% of waste water, installation of collector on riverbank to capture drainage and rainwater harvesting system. Adopt Energy generation by using solar panels, wind mills, hydro power and waste to energy plants.


The citizens cooperation will also be an important in achieving the goal of low carbon development in India. Along with planner roles will be an important in shaping the cities and giving proper direction to the growth and achieving the carbon neutrality in India. This would be possible only by following this India’s development mantra “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” (Collective Effort, Inclusive Development)


Together We Will Grow, Together We Will Build   

Related Articles
Plastic Roads: Use of Waste Plastic in Construction of Roads
Is it possible to think about the right to mobility in Indian cities?
Planning Interventions for Migrant Labourers
Housing Typologies and Characteristics