The UN World Environment Day is taking place today under the slogan “Your Planet Needs You – UNite to Combat Climate Change”. Through this day the United Nations intends to raise worldwide awareness of the environment and to enhance political attention and action. UIC also welcomes the launch of the UN-led campaign “Seal the Deal” for the promotion of a definitive agreement on climate change when governments meet at COP 15 in Copenhagen in December this year.
UIC, the worldwide association representing the railways fully embraces the World Environment Day and the “Seal the Deal” campaign. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General points out: “Rail is the most climate friendly mode for transportation and plays a key role in significantly reducing global greenhouse emissions from the transport sector, which is one of the few sectors in which emissions are consistently rising. I am happy to see that many countries in the world are at the moment developing new rail projects which will have a considerable impact in terms of environmental benefits and economical and social as well “.
An Inventory Report of the European Environmental Agency, issued on 29 May, demonstrates that greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union fell by 1.2 % between 2006 and 2007 and it is expected that the Kyoto target – to achieve an average 8 % reduction in relation to 1990 levels for the period 2008 – 2012 - will be reached. This is despite the fact that transport emissions have risen, for the most part in the road sector where emissions are up 5.3 %. To date Green House Gas emissions from international aviation and maritime transport have been excluded from national totals, yet the emissions from these modes have grown steadily since 1990, reaching about 6 % of total EU emissions in 2007.
UIC urges representatives of governments to include transport in the definitive agreement on climate change when they meet at COP15 in Copenhagen and highlights the fact that curbing the growth of and reducing transport emissions is one of the most vital steps in fighting global warming. UIC also stresses the need for new transport policies promoting behaviour change for all transport users. Furthermore UIC urges decision-makers to ensure that the “next generation Kyoto protocol” places greater emphasis on the rail sector’s contribution to reducing emissions in the transport sector.
Six months’ from today, on 5 December 2009, UIC will run the Climate Express from Brussels to Copenhagen to bring NGO representatives, decision-makers and journalists to the UN COP15 Conference on Climate Change by train.and inform the UNFCCC participants of the role that rail can play in solving the challenges of mitigation and adaptation. The Climate Express is part of the Train to Copenhagen communication campaign and includes a package of promotional activities highlighting the environmental performance of the rail sector, including a website, a global rail position paper and a symbolic journey from Kyoto to Copenhagen, during which the joint declaration formulated by the Asian members during the Kyoto Seminar (November 2009) will be conveyed. The Train to Copenhagen campaign will provide an overall framework and catalyst for national rail promotion campaigns. The Climate Express has attracted support from global organizations including NGOs (e.g. WWF), the COP15 organization itself and the United Nations (UNEP, UNFCCC, UNGC).