Wednesday 13 December 2023

Rail at COP28: Return on Experience

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The International Union of Railways (UIC) delegation has concluded its participation in COP28, having actively engaged in dialogues spanning various sectors such as transport, energy, finance, UN Sustainable Development Goals and resilience, among others. The delegation’s experiences shed light on the role of rail as a climate solution and emphasised the need for more policies and finance to support its role in addressing climate change and its impact on cities and communities.

Key messages from the UIC centred on the enhancement of rail infrastructure within national climate plans (NDCs), recognising its potential to contribute significantly to sustainable development goals. The delegation highlighted the imperative to address the financial challenges hindering rail projects and underscored opportunities for synergy between the energy and transportation sectors.

Despite continued emphasis on heavy emitting sectors, such as zero-emission vehicles, aviation and shipping, widespread recognition of the importance of ‘avoid’ and ‘shift’ measures was given, reflecting the year-round advocacy work of the UIC Sustainability Unit.

The sustainable land transport community, co-initiated by UIC and spearheaded by the SLOCAT Partnership, took a groundbreaking step. The joint call to action focused on doubling the share of energy-efficient and fossil-free forms of land transport by 2030; an ambitious goal which is aligned with global efforts to combat climate change and promotes the development and adoption of sustainable transport solutions. Our fellow co-initiators include REN21, IDDRI, ITDP (Institute for Transportation and Development Policy), UITP (International Association of Public Transport) and WRI (World Resources Institute), and all promote this compelling call to action. The initiative garnered endorsement from Chile, Columbia and 60 other multi-stakeholder organisations and was featured in the COP28 summary of transport day.

As the UIC delegation reflects on its experience at COP28, the focus remains on translating discussions into tangible actions, ensuring that the pivotal role of rail in sustainable transport is acknowledged and incorporated into national and international policies and initiatives. As this piece is written, the final outcomes of COP28 remain unsure. Following the advocacy work of UIC and partners, draft texts of the first Global Stocktake feature text on pathways to decarbonise transport, and, if agreed, this will be the first time transport is featured in a negotiated official COP text. So, watch this space for updates!

For full coverage of events and activities at COP28, go to the UIC Rail at COP28 webpage.

For further information please contact Lucie Anderton at

or Joo Ha at

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