Information published on 8 December 2015 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 477.

UIC welcomed the “2015 Transport Day" (Paris, 6 December)

  • Sustainable development
  • COP21

Following the success of Transport Day 2014 in Lima, Peru, the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT Partnership), together with the Bridging the Gap Initiative (BtG Initiative), and the Michelin Challenge Bibendum (MCB) organised a Transport Day in 2015 on Sunday 6 December 2015, in the context of COP 21 in Paris.

UIC was pleased to welcome at its Headquarters this event which attracted more than 400 participants from the sustainable transport community representing the different modes of transport (passenger and freight transport; road, rail, water and air) as well as the different constituencies (national and local government; transport sector organisations; development organisations; UN bodies; civil society and academia).
The event demonstrated the resolve of the transport sector to take action on Transport and Climate Change and celebrated the progress made in integrating transport in the UNFCCC process: (a) INDCs make explicit reference to transport action; and (b) the Transport Initiatives associated with the SG Climate Summit and LPAA show that non-state actors are making an effort to tackle climate change through the transport sector.

Transport Day continues to be the premier community-building event for the sector in the annual COP. Furthermore, since transport is a crosscutting issue for sustainable development and economic growth, it reflects the readiness and commitment of transport stakeholders to engage with other sectors.

The two mottos for the PPMC’s COP21 campaign are “We Are Transport” and “Ambitious Action (on Transport and Climate Change is) Feasible Now;” it is these guiding thoughts that have framed Transport Day 2015 and its discussions.
Pat Cox, the Former President of the European Parliament and moderator of Transport Day 2015, welcomed the audience to the event, with the motto of the PPMC “We are transport”. He emphasised the need for ambitious action and that this action is feasible now. He was followed by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, the Director General of International Union of Railways (UIC), the host of the day’s event who summarised the past week at COP21 as positive and productive. He outlined UIC’s own commitments to improve sustainable mobility and emphasised that although the rail sector contributes 1% of emissions, there is a desire to reduce emissions by 50% by 2050.

This will contribute towards the modal shift from road to rail. Mr Loubinoux spoke of the need for a paradigm shift from competitive modes towards a complementarity of transport modes.
SLoCaT Foundation Chairman and Deputy Transport Commissioner for Policy in New York City, Michael Replogle took to the stand to highlight this as a crucial time to broaden networks of sustainable low carbon action and observed that transport has finally been brought into the mainstream at COP21. He highlighted the need for the public sector to enhance capacity, the private sector to bring finance and the civil society to act as a catalyst for action. He recommended a move from a project based on a programmatic approach and the need to invest in the short term to reduce cost in the longer term. His closing statement was “onward together.”

Jean Dominique Senard, CEO at Michelin, outlined three key focus areas for transport initiatives in France: European mobility, long haul transport and personal vehicle driving. He spoke of the tremendous impact of these and stressed that it is time for transport to stand up and speak out.

Finally, Janos Pasztor, the Assistant Secretary General on Climate Change closed the initial welcoming session by emphasising the need to act now on transport and not wait for a post 2020 agreement to be finalised. He spoke of the need to promote sustainable transport in line with economic growth, social benefits and environmental protection. He noted that COP21 in Paris will be a pivotal point where policy is turned into practice.

From the SLoCaT partnership, Cornie Huizenga posed the question of how to raise ambition in the transport sector, noting that the incremental change thus far would not be enough to reach a two-degree scenario by 2050, and urged participants to brainstorm ideas for this throughout the day. He also asked the audience to embrace a vision of disruptive thinking on sustainable transport solutions. To support this, Patrick Oliva from the Michelin Challenge Bibendum reminded participants that governments, business and civil society all need to work together to galvanise real transformation in the sector. He invited all attendants to identify the priorities in the sector to focus on in 2016. Finally, reflecting the usefulness of cooperation and the rising visibility of sustainable transport in the UNFCCC process, he ended his remarks by announcing that the Minister of the Environment of Morocco has invited the PPMC to contribute to preparations for COP22.

During one of the afternoon sessions, dealing with the theme “Sustainable Transport Champions” and showcasing countries that through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) they have demonstrated commitment to take action on transport and climate change as well as initiatives from the transport sector by non-state actors that will result in action by the transport sector itself, examples were provided of potential linkages between specific INDCs and Transport Initiatives.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, said: “Allow me to remind you of the UIC initiative announced at the UN Climate Summit in 2014. The ‘low carbon transport challenge’ set out a vision for the global rail sector with targets derived from analysis of the 2 degrees scenario. The rail sector, represented by UIC with 240 members from 95 countries worldwide, have committed to a target for 2030 - to improve both specific final energy consumption & specific average carbon emissions by 50% relative to a 1990 as baseline. I am pleased to report good progress, our sector has already achieved improvements of more than 40% for both of these targets. Of course we must keep working hard and strive for even greater performance. By 2050 we aim for 60% improvement in energy efficiency and 75% carbon reduction. Of course to make a real impact we must reduce total transport emissions. This means achieving a more sustainable balance between transport modes. Rail transport is the most emissions efficient major mode of land transport. Already today, the electrified rail system uses significant quantities of renewable energy. We propose a target to increase rail passenger market share by 50% in 2030 and then double it by 2050. For freight we aim to equal road activity by 2030, and then exceed road volumes by 50% in 2050. These targets are ambitious, but achievable in a green economic perspective. And now for COP21 we have reinforced the global level targets with commitments by individual member companies. Last week over 70 CEOs from railway companies across the world signed the Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge. This declaration by CEOs, who are collectively responsible for the majority of the world’s passenger and freight rail transport sets out four commitments, to reduce carbon emissions, increase modal share, actively communicate on climate issues, and to report performance. Action by national government and their INDCs are critical to delivering these targets. What we have seen is encouraging but there is much work still to be done.

It is really good to see India making positive statements in their INCD, specifically to increase rail market share from 36% to 45% and to know that this is backed up by major projects such as the dedicated freight corridor.

In addition to this, there are 26 other countries which have referenced rail transport as a part of the solution to climate in their INDC (Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin , Canada Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India , Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vietnam, Zimbabwe). But when we look at most of the countries that are responsible for the largest emissions we can see a general trend for high level statements with little detail on transport. I think we have to understand this as a challenge to the sustainable transport community, a challenge to prove what we can offer. A challenge to innovate and deliver more competitive low carbon transport systems and to deliver these quickly.
This is where we will focus our efforts in the coming years.”