Information published on 27 November 2012 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 321.

COP-Mobility: rail and public transport for a low-carbon future

  • Sustainable development

International associations will join forces for COP18 in Doha to show how to build a low-carbon transport system

Three leading associations, UITP (International Association of Public Transport), UIC and UNIFE (Association of the European Rail Industry) will join forces at the COP18 (Conference of the parties) negotiations in Doha, Qatar, to present a vision for low-carbon transport that uses railways and other public transport modes to provide low-carbon alternatives to the car. The presentation of the associations’ views will be made at a joint Side Event which will also feature experts in sustainable transport from Latin America.

COP18 will present a new opportunity for transport to be given a new impetus in the international climate change regime. COP18 will see continued negotiations on the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” or ADP, which is a process that will establish a new worldwide climate change regime with legal force underpinned by global commitment. The new regime must be agreed by 2015 and launched in 2020.

There is clear evidence that public transport and railways reduce CO2 and have the capacity to contribute even greater CO2 reductions. For example, a recent study for UIC concluded that if rail were to be the dominant mode for long-distance transport in Europe (corresponding to a 38% modal share for total freight transport and a 27% share in passenger transport), this would result in an annual GHG (greenhouse gas) reduction of 238 Mtonne of CO2-eq., or 21% of total European transport emissions1.

In addition, UITP’s strategy to double the market share of public transport worldwide by 2025, also known as PTX2, would make it possible to stabilise urban transport greenhouse gas emissions. A massive shift to public transport would prevent the emission of half a billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year. This would mean that urban transport emissions would be in line with the objectives of the international climate negotiations despite the massive overall increase in the number of trips made in urban areas.

In line with this willingness of modal shift to sustainable transport, an unprecedented R&D effort to enhance capacity and reliability of the rail system is taking shape with the SHIFT²RAIL JTI initiative coordinated by UNIFE. It will contribute to the building of a low/no-carbon transport system through the development of innovative green technologies with an investment of 800 million to 1 billion euro coming from committed rail industries and from the possible support of the European Union setting up a Public Private Partnership.

The benefits of co-modality between modes are also key. A recent World Bank report has made the point that “shifting from passenger vehicles to mass transit can significantly reduce emissions,” and that “having good intermodal connectivity and good integration between transport corridors and feeder systems is crucial to the success of alternative infrastructure.” Multi-modal ticketing, improved interchange between other transport modes, as well as walking and cycling, and improved passenger information are all critical to attracting more passengers to mass transit, which in turn will reduce emissions.

The joint Side Event at COP18 will give a perfect opportunity for UITP, UIC and UNIFE to provide this input by showcasing the many ways in which railways and public transport can reduce CO2 in the transport sector.

  • The study, “Potential of modal shift to rail transport - Study on the projected effects on GHG emissions and transport volumes” was commissioned by CER and UIC to consider the potential levels of modal shift to rail, and in particular the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction savings that could result. It was undertaken by the consultancies CE Delft (Netherlands) and TRT (Italy). It is available on the UIC website here: http://www.uic.org/spip.php?article3029
  • UITP is pleased to present its new campaign ‘Grow with Public Transport’. UITP is moving forward with the PTx2 strategy. Further information can be found online: http://growpublictransport.org