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Friday 7 September 2012

Reiterating our commitment to help find solutions to climate change, UIC participated also in the COP 17, held in Durban, South Africa, from the 28th of November to the 9th of December the 2011. This has reinforced UIC and UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) cooperation and has showed once more that railways are the low carbon transport solution that mitigates GHG emissions and that adapts to climate change in many ways.

UIC at COP17

On the 30th of November, a side event named “Are roads the only option?” was jointly organized with ITPS, the Japanese Institution for Transport Policy Studies. During the presentation, UIC, represented by Alex Veitch the head of the Sustainable Development Unit, showed that trains and public transport contributed to reducing climate change by reducing GHG emissions. He also showed that roads are not the only option for transport, especially for developing countries. Some countries such as Turkey, Ethiopia or Viet Nam chose to be sustainable by implementing projects such as new regional, urban and high speed rail lines. For more information, please see the presentation :

In summary, the event presented the issue of how to make public transport (railways, metro, bus) a genuine low-carbon development option in the developing world, both for passenger and freight transport.

Not only did UIC made a side event, we also attended the UNFCCC negotiations session, went to several side events during five days, allowing us to widespread our solution to climate change, to share good practices with many other relevant stakeholders and to grasp many useful information to achieve sustainability.

Morevoer, Mr Alexander Veitch participated in the workshop of the Nairobi Work Program whose objective is to assist all Parties to improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change; and make informed decisions on practical adaptation actions More information here .

Mr.Veitch (on the left) and other guests speaking at COP 17

COP 17 Outcomes

What was achieved?

For the first time, world governments committed themselves to write a comprehensive global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, covering developed and developing countries, to come into force in 2020.

Governments will begin negotiations on what the new climate agreement should look like. According to the "Durban platform", these must wrap up in 2015 with a legal document ready to be signed. Governments will then have five years to ratify it.

UIC success

From public transport point of view, the COP 17 was a success. Indeed, UIC managed to attract more than 100 people to the side event. It concretely means that many different people (NGO, private sector, UN institutions) are now aware that they are (rail)ways to cope with climate change from both point of view : mitigation and adaptation. Indeed, the participation to the workshop of the Nairobi allowed demonstrating that rails also adapt to new conditions. The participation in different meetings enables UIC to perform a strong networking.

This success is encapsulated by the fact the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) even made the promotion of our side event on its website, at http://www.unep.org/climatechange/ClimateChangeConferences/COP17/Highlights/Areroadstheonlyoption/tabid/79167/Default.aspx.

This event will influence the COP17 participants to consider railways when developing policies and funding strategies.

New possibilities

The third important point from the COP17 is that there are going to be new funding streams available to reduce CO2 emisisons and to adapt to the effects of climate change. There are many different sources of funding, and so the United Nations has created a Web Portal for Climate Finance to provide clear advice on how to apply for project funding. The web portal is available here at: www.unfccc.int.

Next steps : COP18

The fruitful association between UIC and UNFCCC is to be kept on. Indeed, UIC is trying to participate in the COP18 which will be held in Doha, Qatar, from the 26 of November to the 7th of December 2012 – the sustainable development unit applied for a side event, which will deal with combined mobility and applied to obtain a stand in the exhibition area. Soon, we will be given the answer, hoping that we would once again have the opportunity to attend the COP and strengthening our alliance with the UN.