Rail at COP28 - On the Right Track: Paving the way for Sustainable Mobility

30 November – 12 December


COP28, or the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates between 30 November and 12 December 2023. This is a pivotal moment as governments from across the globe will come together to address the climate emergency and agree on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation. As with previous COP meetings, COP28 aims to further advance the global commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
It will serve as a critical platform for key stakeholders to cooperate, negotiate, and make commitments to combat climate change. The participation of UIC, as a UN observer organization, is essential to bring the voice of the rail sector into critical climate and transport conversations and continue to demonstrate its leadership in low carbon high volume transport. By actively engaging at COP28, the rail sector can play a crucial role in shaping policies that support a more sustainable and climate-resilient future for transportation.

More Trains campaign

The More Trains campaign was launched at COP27 to convene the rail community under a set of key messages that showcase the contributions of the rail sector and what is needed to take it further, faster. UIC coordinates the efforts and is supported by member companies, and beyond, reaching the broader rail community.

Rail companies continue to raise the bar - the #MoreTrains campaign highlights the work that rail companies are doing towards efficient and resilient railways, contributing to the achievement of the Paris Agreement and UN SDGs. This campaign builds off the UIC Vision 2030 and brings together success stories from rail around the world under the four key transformational areas : transforming cities and connecting communities, energy, technology and innovation, intermodality and seamless connection, and customer experience.

Decarbonization of transport can go even further - rail is already the most electrified mode of transport and offers high-volume transport for people and goods, at the lowest level of emissions. With the support of appropriate policy and finance, we can maximize the benefits that rail can offer. #MoreTrains calls for policymakers, businesses, innovators, financial institution, civil society, among others to :

  • Include rail in long-term policy commitment and planning, such as Nationally Determined Contributions
  • Adopt fair market competition practices that prioritize the low-carbon modes of transport, through appropriate push and pull mechanisms
  • Incentivize investment and promote finance to flow into rail expansion and improvement, with view to the wider socioeconomic and environmental benefits that rail can offer

Modal shift is key - yet, it is not at the heart of the transport policy and priorities. According to SLOCAT, the ASI approach follows an implicit hierarchy, with appropriate and context-sensitive Avoid measures intended to be implemented first, followed by Shift measures and finally by Improve measures. This prioritisation can help reduce environmental impact, improve access to socio-economic opportunities, increase logistics efficiency, reduce congestion, improve air quality and increase road safety. Growing evidence shows that Avoid and Shift strategies can account for 40-60% of transport emission reductions, at lower costs than Improve strategies.

You can see the materials prepared by the 2022 More Trains campaign here.

Show your support to More Trains!

Key messages for COP28

This year, the focus is on implementation and action on the ground. The key messages are founded on three pillars:

  1. Bridging the Rail Finance Gap: Challenges and Opportunities in LICs and LMICs

In celebration of the first UN World Sustainable Transport Day, a comprehensive new study titled "Bridging the Rail Finance Gap: Challenges and Opportunities for Low- and Lower-Middle-Income Countries" jointly authored by the International Union of Railways (UIC), ALSTOM, University of Birmingham, and Roland Berger has been released. It unveils a compelling case for the significant impact of expanding rail infrastructure in low- and lower-middle-income countries (LICs and LMICs). The study emphasizes the coordinated efforts needed by International Finance Institutions, governments, the rail industry, and international community to unlock the potential of railways can play in achieving climate goals while providing substantial economic benefits in LICs and LMICs.

  1. Rail in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

In preparation for COP28, the UIC has prepared a rail analysis regarding each country’s Nationally Determined Contribution. Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs, are a vital component of the Paris Agreement. Each participating country within the Paris Agreement is asked to submit an NDC, outlining the commitments and actions that it intends to take to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to adapt to the ramifications of climate change. These NDCs take into account the country’s domestic circumstances, capabilities, and priorities in addressing climate change. NDCs work in five-year cycles, and successive NDCs represent a progression compared to the previous NDC, reflecting a country’s highest possible ambition. Including rail within NDCs can help accelerate the decarbonization of the transport sector in many ways. The UIC explored the diverse benefits of integrating rail into NDCs and the crucial role it plays in supporting sustainable, low-carbon transport systems. The UIC analyzed all 193 NDCs to determine to what extent rail is being mentioned and to create recommendations that help build more comprehensive NDCs for the next NDC cycle.

  1. Energy and Transport Nexus

Requested by the COP28 presidency, the UIC has engaged with fellow sustainable transport organizations to develop a white paper “Advancing the energy and transport transitions with railways, public transport and active mobility”, which builds the case for mutually reinforcing transport as large energy consumers, the coordinated planning for transport and energy infrastructure presents significant opportunities, including the advancement of renewables in the transport energy matrix. This white paper will serve as the foundation for the COP28 Presidency programming for the ‘avoid’ and ‘shift’ pieces of the transport thematic day.


Contact: Joo Hyun Ha - ha@uic.org

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Thursday 16 November 2023