UIC is participating in the 24th Conference of the Parties – COP – taking place from 2 to 14 December in Katowice, Poland. UIC is accredited by the United Nations as a recognised organisation to participate in major global events such as COP.
A UIC delegation participated in COP events from 5 to 8 December and promoted UIC member activities towards a more sustainable future and their commitment to fighting climate change.
Prior to COP, UIC contributed to the Talanoa Dialogue. An outcome of COP23, the Talanoa Dialogue gathers input from countries, NGOs and so on, displaying and detailing their commitment to keep in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). UIC organised an event recognised as an active contribution to the Talanoa Dialogue: the first UIC workshop on sustainable door-to-door solutions was held in Warsaw on 14 November 2018.
For COP24, UIC signed a tripartite partnership agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). On 7 December, UIC met with the UNFCCC Secretariat to discuss the considerable opportunities brought about by such a partnership for both UIC and UITP members.
On 6 December, UIC actively contributed to Transport Day, an initiative by the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) and organised by Cleaner and Better Transport in Cities (CIVITAS) and PPMC (Paris Process on Mobility and Climate). The event was opened by Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice, who stressed that the city of Katowice wanted to place a greater focus on railway infrastructure. Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, spoke about what the European Union needs to do in the fight against climate change. “Political courage comes from the support from citizens […] every voice counts“, she said. She emphasised the importance of the railways in Europe as the most electrified mode of transport, as well as the great success of ERTMS. Mr Tomasz Chruszczow, COP24 Special Envoy for Climate Change and High-Level Climate Champion, concluded the first plenary session of Transport Day, saying that “sustainable transport solutions are development opportunities“.
On the same day UIC, organised a break-out session on adaptation to climate change with the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC) and John Dora Consulting Ltd., advisors on resilience to weather and climate change. Around 30 people participated in the event, which was introduced by Carole Escolan-Zeno, Head of the Sustainability unit at UIC, who presented the UIC RailAdapt Project and explained how the topic of adaptation and resilience is crucial for railways around the world in light of recent and future weather events; the idea was to enable the world’s railways to acquire the flexibility needed to adjust to climate change. Mr Andrew Quinn from the University of Birmingham presented an outline of the RailAdapt report and discussed “how adaptation should be integrated as business as usual“ in companies. Following this, Mr Jordan Harris of Adapt Chile presented that situation in cities such as Santiago de Chile, where “there are local actors starting to adapt organically in the face of extreme climate events“. He recognised the co-benefits of transport mitigation and adaptation and the importance of working smarter and involving stakeholders from various scales and sectors such as local authorities, transport service providers and final users. Ms Asariotis of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) then presented climate change impacts and adaptation for critical coastal transport infrastructure in small island developing states and explained how climate change will bring drastic change to such countries. This is particularly the case in terms of the economy, which is very often linked to the tourism industry, and which will evolve with increasing temperatures and increasing dramatic weather events. PIANC, also represented by Ms Asariotis, then gave a presentation on adapting waterborne transport infrastructures to climate change. Mr Aage Jorgensen from the Nordic Development Fund explained how the Nordics are taking adaptation into consideration and that it is important to make early adaptation a reality and explained that the Nordic Development fund is working on adaptation of practical measures. The event served as an excellent opportunity for a multisectoral view of what adaptation is and how other transport stakeholders are dealing with adaptation to climate change.
On the morning of 7 December, UIC participated in an official UNFCCC Facebook Live video together with UITP. Transport and e-mobility are among the main topics for discussion at COP24, and both Carole Escolan-Zeno of UIC and Philip Turner, European Expert Sustainable Mobility at UITP, explained to the audience the most important items on the agenda for the sector and how transport stakeholders are mobilising for this year’s COP. They then gave some concrete and inspiring examples of projects implemented by UITP and UIC members which contribute to the promotion of sustainable transport in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. For example, UIC launched a global sustainable door-to-door solutions project in 2018. They also discussed the measures that policymakers can take to embed sustainable transport into public policies and drive more investment to the sector. Carole Escolan-Zeno focussed for part of the interview on reducing emissions but spoke mainly of the need to build resilience to climate change as extreme weather heavily affects transportation systems and railways. She also explained how UIC is helping to keep its members informed and prepared to adapt to climate change. You can watch the video on the UNFCCC Facebook page.
Ms Escolan-Zeno was also invited to speak at the Marrakech Partnership Global Climate Action Transport Action event in the afternoon. The event involved discussion on scaling up climate action in the transport sector while highlighting the scale and range of climate action in the sector. Political, technical, social, and economic barriers preventing scaling up of climate action were identified, and there was lengthy discussion of how UNFCCC Parties can help to address these barriers at national level. Ms Escolan-Zeno talked about improving modal shift and system efficiencies and took the opportunity to remind the audience that the rail sector has strong ambitions and needs investment in rail infrastructure and connectivity. Ms Cécile Texier of Alstom, Mr Jonas Stromberg of Scania and Mr Dale Hall of the International Council on Clean Transportation also took the floor to present their vision.
Following this, UIC co-hosted an official side-event with the International Transport Forum (ITF) and UITP. The event was moderated by Barry Howe, Director, Sustainable Mobility and Community Investment at Alstom and was opened by Ms Mary Crass, Head of Institutional Relations & Summit, ITF and Mr Nicolas Beaumont, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development and Mobility at Michelin. The focus of the event was decarbonisation of transport; the objective being to introduce a range of effective short and long-term policies and measures that will help countries and cities in both developing and developed regions to reduce their transport carbon emissions and provide policy options for inclusion in national or local climate action plans. The event covered a wide range of topics from worldwide figures to European issues in the transport sector, particularly in urban areas, in both developed and developing countries. You can watch the event online on UNFCCC platforms. The panel for the discussion comprised Mr Jari Kauppila, Head of Statistics and Modelling, ITF, Mr Nikolaos Gavanas, Policy Officer, Directorate H-Transport, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, Ms Yue Huang, Manager of Aviation Environment, International Air Transport Association, Dr Urban Wästljung, Senior Environment and Transport Policy Expert, Scania (UITP member) and Mr Ramon Cruz, International Policy Program Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.
On 8 December, UIC participated in a visit organised by Alstom to its plant in Katowice: Konstal S.A. The visit provided an excellent opportunity to discover how the company focusses on implementing sustainable technologies and how the industry has played an important role in the region for decades now, providing jobs and expertise and ongoing innovation both for railways and in the workplace. The visit consisted of a presentation of Konstal S.A., followed by a visit to the plant itself: assembly lines, augmented reality coach painting, etc. UIC would like to thank Alstom, and in particular Cécile Texier and Barry Howe as well as the local team, for organising this very interesting visit to the heart of the rail industry.
To conclude, UIC would like to thank all of the stakeholders that collaborated with the Sustainability unit for COP24: UITP, UNFCCC, ITF, SLOCAT, CIVITAS, John Dora and all of the participants and speakers from the Adaptation Session during Transport Day, as well as all of the participants who took part in our co-hosted events on 6 and 7 December.