At the thirtieth session of the UNFCCC Convention Subsidiary Bodies (“SB 30”) from 1 to 12 June in Bonn a draft text for the agreement on the future climate regime to be agreed upon in Copenhagen at the COP 15 in December was presented for initial negations. The pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) where the successor to the Kyoto Protocol is to be agreed upon will take place between 7 and 18 December 2009.
UIC attended the SB 30 meeting promoting rail as a part of the solution for curbing the increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, hosting an exhibition stand and participating in meetings in close cooperation with UITP (the International Association of Public Transport comprising some 3000 members in 90 countries), the Transport Research Laboratory (a major think-tank from the UK which advises governments internationally on a range of transport issues) and the GTZ (the German Technical Cooperation Agency).
The results of the special workshop, “Bridging the gap”, dedicated to transport and climate change (held on Saturday 6 June) were presented at the official UNFCCC side event on how to ensure land transport is fully integrated into the future climate regime and its mechanisms. The session was chaired by UIC Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development, Margrethe Sagevik.
This event took up a recent call for action from transport experts – the “Bellagio Declaration” – and presented specific suggestions on integrating land transport into the climate change agreement. This includes financing mitigation and adaptation actions, capacity building for sustainable transport planning and potential ways of measuring, reporting and verifying emission reductions.
Participants in the debate included Mr Daniel Bongardt, GTZ, (introduction on the urgency and importance of tackling emissions from transport), Mr Cornie Huizenga, from the Asian Development Bank (on financial mechanisms), Mr Armin Wagner, GTZ (on capacity building and technology transfer), and Mr Holger Dalkmann, TRL, (latest update on the Bridging the gap-initiative). The following intergovernmental and governmental representatives then gave their views and further advices on how to ensure the role of land transport: Mr Raekwon Chung, Climate Change Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Ms. Moekti Handajani Soejachmoen, Indonesia, and Mr Mark Major, DG Environment. Finally Margrethe Sagevik presented the UIC Train to Copenhagen project, which includes a package of promotional
activities highlighting the environmental performance of the rail sector (for more information please visit www.traintocopenhagen.org).
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer summarised the SB 30 meeting as a “significant session that has advanced our work in an important way.” The big achievement of the meeting, he said, was that “it has made clear what governments want to see in a Copenhagen agreement, which shows their commitment to reaching an agreement.” Regarding mid-term emission cuts by industrialised countries, he emphasised the need for these countries to show greater ambition.
The conclusions of the SB 30 meeting highlighted the importance of the progress made on technology transfer. This is of special interest for UIC members as UIC is able to follow the same path for technological transfer and sharing within the rail sector. UIC has for example already developed a methodology for measuring greenhouse gas emissions from passenger and freight transport supported by the European Environmental Energy (www.ecopassenger.org and www.ecotransit.org).
UIC supports the UN-initiative “Seal the Deal” launched on the World Environment Day (5 June) calling for a definitive agreement on climate change. UIC also urges decision makers to include rail in the agreement as part of the solution and join the Train to Copenhagen campaign as well as the Climate Express on 5 December!
UIC is working continuously to further improve the environmental and sustainability advantages of the rail sector – including its energy efficiency. UIC is also leading the rail sector’s work in adapting rail infrastructure to the consequences of climate change.
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 a joint declaration formulated by 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 and has attracted support from global organizations including NGOs (e.g. WWF), the COP15 organization itself and the United Nations (UNEP, UNFCCC, UNGC).
UIC would like to extend special thanks to all partners who have been involved in “Bridging the Gap” www.sutp.org/bridging_the_gap/ so far!