Transforming Transportation: Mr. Pawan Mulukutla's take on India’s Effective, Equitable, and Inclusive Solutions For Sustainable Mobility

In this interview with Mr. Pawan Mulukutla, we delve into India’s ongoing efforts to achieve a sustainable and decarbonized economy. Mr. Mulukutla, who heads the Integrated Transport, Electric Mobility & Hydrogen programs at WRI India, sheds light on the organization’s key projects in these areas and discusses the crucial topics that India needs to focus on to meet its NetZero and Renewable Energy targets, emphasizing the significance of electric mobility, green hydrogen, and renewable energy in this regard.

Mr. Pawan Mulukutla    

Director - Integrated Transport, Electric Mobility & Hydrogen, World Resources Institute (WRI), India

"I believe that India has a unique opportunity to further embolden and solidify the global south’s position on climate change."

What are the Key Projects and the international projects currently ongoing at WRI India?

WRI India is working across a broad spectrum of projects at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being. Under the Integrated Transport, Electric Mobility & Hydrogen programs, primarily, we are working on a range of projects that cater to improving road safety & last mile connectivity, transitioning ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle fleets to electric and supporting the creation of a green hydrogen economy in India. Besides assisting the national-level policymaking, presently, we are also supporting the EV transition at the sub-national level – assisting various key states in enhancing their ongoing EV transition. We provide technical assistance to address rampant bottlenecks in all segments of e-mobility including two and three-wheelers, EV batteries, freight, charging infrastructure and public transport. Our focus is on enabling a just transition of the industry that puts women at the forefront of this transition. Our work aims to enable a just and equitable transition to a decarbonized economy.

We also supported the development of the National Green Hydrogen Mission announced  this year(on 4 Jan 2023) by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. We have also been part of the Energy Transitions Working Group meetings being held under India’s G20 Presidency – presenting our recommendations to kickstart the creation of a green hydrogen economy.


What topics should India focus on to reach its NetZero and Renewable Energy targets?

India has a unique development context, and it is crucial to create a strategic plan for the future that plays to our strengths. India needs to identify potentially disruptive trends and emerging technologies that can drive the transformation of the energy and mobility sectors for an inclusive social and economic growth.

India’s target to reach net zero emissions by 2070 and meet 50% of its electricity requirements from renewables by 2030 is indeed a watershed moment for global efforts to mitigate the adversities of climate change.

“India is pioneering a new model of economic development along low-carbon pathways, electric mobility, green hydrogen and renewable energy are at the heart of this development journey.”

Amid rapid urbanization, the transport sector emissions presently constitute about 13.5% of total emissions in India and the road transport sector alone is responsible for over 87% of transport sector emissions. We need to carefully strike a balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability to achieve our ambitious net zero target. Electric mobility transition at the state level is imperative for the achievement of this target. To date, 26 states and union territories have notified state-level e-mobility policies, with another 8 states and UTs having draft policies. With India touching 5% EV market share of new vehicle registrations in 2022, it is important to maintain the momentum for e-mobility development to strategically decarbonize the economy. Another critical component in our pursuit of net zero status is the creation of a green hydrogen economy. This will play a critical role in improving our energy security and diversification, enabling the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors.

Understandably, the expansion of renewable energy capacity, which is already on the upswing in India, will empower the transition to EVs and the creation of a green hydrogen economy. Co-located renewable energy projects at hydrogen production hubs along with an increasing share of renewables in EV charging will help us achieve our climate commitments proactively.

Technology is the key parameter for transforming energy & its end uses. Digitization of the energy sector can catalyse access to energy and make the mobility sector smarter, more integrated, and more efficient.


What is India’s role in limiting global carbon / Co2 emissions and what is the significance of international collaborations in this collective goal?

India is one of the biggest players in the global south. As the global south continues to expand and modernize, energy demand and resource consumption in these regions are expected to increase. The global south is expected to account for two-thirds of global infrastructure investments in the coming decades, which offers a great opportunity to overcome the archaic, polluting, and inefficient systems of the past. Our rapid economic growth necessitates an equal thrust on a diversified energy consumption profile built upon low-carbon pathways.

India’s per-person historical CO2 emissions are amongst the lowest in the world, and our proactive responsiveness to climate change and ambitious climate commitments serve as a model to other developing countries that are struggling to achieve economic growth while also ensuring environmental sustainability and social equity.

We need huge investments to implement solutions to fight climate change and meet SDGs. The global energy transition will be thwarted without stronger support from the international community. Presently, there aren’t enough viable investment opportunities available to emerging economies due to a lack of appropriate financing mechanisms.

The G20 offers us an effective platform to steer global conversations toward enhanced collaborations and cooperation for the holistic development of an ecosystem that can support global climate measures. India’s technological and digital innovations offer an insight into the potential for member countries to adopt inclusive, targeted, and resource-efficient pathways to resilience. India can utilize this novel opportunity to facilitate and lead international collaborations that can leverage multilateral/stakeholder engagements to advance this ecosystem’s development.

Fireside Chat: The Energy Transition and Role of Sustainable Urban Mobility Listen to Mr. Pawan Mulukutla in a conversation with Ms. Shipra Misra, DRIIV and Prof. Dr. Miranda Schreurs, School of Social Sciences and Technology, TUM. They discuss the current energy transition policy in India and Germany with a focus on the role of urban mobility. They also address global trends and assess the current developments in both countries.