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Home > Cooperation with the UN > UIC and UNFCCC > COP15- Train to Copenhagen Campaign

COP15- Train to Copenhagen Campaign

Friday 7 September 2012

In the forerun of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in December 2009, UIC together with UNEP and WWF organised the “Train to Copenhagen” communications campaign. The campaign offered UIC members a global communications framework, including joint messages and activities. Further on, many UIC members organised their national and local versions of the campaign.

The international campaign brought forward the message of the crucial role of rail in curbing transport GHG-emissions to the COP 15. Main ingredients of the campaign were a flagship train running from Brussels to Copenhagen, a seminar in Kyoto and a symbolic low carbon journey from Kyoto to Copenhagen. The goal was to bring people to Copenhagen and COP15 to the people.

The UIC Kyoto Seminar

The first step occured in Kyoto, a highly symbolical place. On 5th and 6th November, the UIC Asia Environment Conference took place in the International Conference Center of Kyoto, exactly the place where 12 years ago at the United Nations Climate Change Conference the first global CO2 reduction agreement has been agreed upon, known as the “Kyoto Protocol”.

At this honorable place of history the railway message towards the COP 15 climate change conference in Copenhagen was signed by the participants of the conference and was transferred by the “Train to Copenhagen” via Vladivostok, Moscow, Berlin and Brussels to Copenhagen.

The message demonstrates the strong commitment of railways to take responsibility in reducing CO2 emissions of the transport sector and points out the important role that railways play as a backbone of any sustainable transport system of the future.

“The UIC is strongly committed to conveying the important role of rail in tackling climate change. The global rail community sends this message to COP15, to encourage to ‘Keep Kyoto on Track’ and ‘Seal the Deal’ in Copenhagen” states the message signed by Mr. Ishida Chairman UIC, Mr. Loubinoux, UIC Director General, Joachim Kettner, Chairman UIC EES Platform, Mr Huh Chairman of UIC Asian Regional Assembly and the other participants of the conference.

To see the message , click on the image :

The Kyoto to Copenhagen symbolic journey

Following this seminar in November 2009 a team of environmental experts, NGOs and journalist boarded the Trans Siberian Express in Vladivostok. The trip was a key part of the Train to Copenhagen project and was organised by the Russian Railways (RZD). RZD provided a special VIP-wagon to carry the experts bringing the message from Kyoto to Copenhagen on the route Vladivostok – Moscow (9289km-long journey).

The wagon was attached and detached to five regular Trans-Siberian Expresses during the journey, as the program elaborated by Russian Railways envisaged stops in 5 Russian major cities during the trip. Excursions, technical visits and meetings with the local authorities and press were planned as well as a meeting RZD top-management upon arrival at Moscow on 1 December.

The team joined the “Climate Express” going to Copenhagen on 5 December, thereby linking the East and the West via the Trans Siberian Railway, one of the key international corridors linking Asia and Europe.

Climate Express

The International Union of Railways (UIC) and its members and partners organized the Climate Express from Brussels to Copenhagen; to the COP 15, on 5 December, a 12-hour on-track conference about transport and climate change where the aim was to find out how we can solve the challenges posed by the transport sector with regard to global warming. More information on COP15 here.

For the occasion, a special train ran between Brussels and Copenhagen.
Departure was planned for 5th December, 9.10, from Brussels Midi. The “Climate Express” was supplemented by feeder connections from major European cities and by trains offered to the national delegation by the Railways. The train, calling at Cologne and Hamburg, was the platform for a large number of on-board activities. Presentations, exhibitions, testimonials, interviews and a press briefing with the international press were organized. The passengers invited were delegates, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and media.

By drawing power entirely from renewable sources of energy, the journey on the Climate Express was totally CO2-free. If the same group of people flew to Copenhagen instead of taking the train, they would have produced 115kg CO2 per person.

Below : the train stopped at Cologne

More information and pictures here.

The outcomes of the campaign

The Train to Copenhagen has been considered a huge success as it attracted high interest from the media and all involved partners. The Train to Copenhagen web site had many visitors where they among others could follow the blog of the travel team making the journey from Kyoto to Copenhagen, as well as live blogging from the Climate Express.

The Train to Copehagen succeeded in:

  • bringing forward the important role rail can play as a part of the solution for climate change - with one joint strong sector voice
  • attracting attention from the global media
  • demonstrating how cooperation and partnerships create synergies for all involved
  • providing a platform for forwarding and communicating on all the systematic and fruitful work UIC members have performed during decades to improve the environmental and sustainability advantages of rail - including mitigation and adaptation activities.
  • inspiring new friendship and new cooperation

Moreover, we were honored as the campaign was short listed among the top 5 candidates from over 1400 entrants for the prestigious European Excellence Awards 2010 in the International Communications category, alongside GE, L’Oreal, Electrolux and BMC Software. The campaign was thus a real success.

In a word, our participation to COP15 was encapsulated by the Climate Express, who showed to people that they are ways to cope with climate change : railways.