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“Getting the Climate Right for Transport”

Friday 7 September 2012

Regarding GHG emissions and climate change mitigation, transport still represents one of the biggest challenges, and railways continue to promote and position their contribution and advantages. As claimed by the Chairman of the conference, Ivo De Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, the big question was: “what is the political answer to what the scientific community is telling so clearly?” Railways do have answers.

UIC’s activities at COP 13

UIC and UITP were present at the UN Climate Change conference with the “Keep Kyoto on track” campaign. For COP 13 UIC and UITP were jointly challenged by the organizers - the United Nations Framework Conventions of Climate Changes (UNFCCC) - to organize two side events on transport in cooperation with two transport research institutions, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) from UK and Institute for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS) from Japan.

The events were entitled “Getting the Climate Right for Transport” and mainly focused on the advantages of rail and public transport in a sustainable transport system. The UIC message emphasized all the strong efforts going on in the sector on energy efficiency and emissions reductions and the need for modal shift and internalisation of external costs - railways caused only a minor share of the global greenhouse emissions and railways are continuously improving their energy efficiency and emissions performance :
Raiil is part of the solution to reduce emissions in the transport sector and is the backbone of sustainable transport systems.

The participants’ comments

Rail is the backbone of high capacity sustainable transport systems for both passenger and freight services. "We need to see brave politicians investing in long-term transport solutions, especially in the developing world. The few rail projects being put into place in the developing world, mean that we will pay a high price in the future both financially and environmentally. The rail sector itself is continuously working on becoming more and more efficient and we now have the tools to help politicians make the right decisions" added Margrethe Sagevik, UIC Senior Advisor Sustainable Development.

Holger Dalkmann, head of the environmental Policy division of UK’s largest transport research organisation (TRL), stressed "the need for urgent action in the transport sector. “ A wide policy mix between economic instruments like road pricing and fuel taxes, integration of land-use and transport planning as well as “soft measures” to tackle behaviour change are needed. To use CDM for the transport sector, we have to find new ways to tackle the problem. 7 out of 2800 applications and only 1 approved methodology isn’t enough. A sectoral approach might be a way forward.

Manfred Breithaupt of GTZ, the German Technical Cooperation added that "Capacity building and awareness raising play an important role to develop sustainable transport solutions in urban cities." GTZ provides training and learning tools in different languages covering a broad range of transport related issues and with a broad success since 6 years.

In a word, cooperation enables to mitigate GHG emissions and adapt to climate change. When having the right information, relevant stakeholders can act concretely. Railways are more than able to act and to help adapt to climate change !


It seems that the message was widespread as the “Getting the climate right for transport” was webcasted by the UNFCCC.
This reinforced our cooperation with UNFCCC, which continued with the COP 14