Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge Commitments of UIC Members

Scientific statements regarding climate change are alarming: even if countries around the globe meet their commitments made at COP 21 in 2015 for 2020, the planet will warm up by 3°C by the end of the century.

In order to stay in line with the Paris Agreement, countries need to multiply their ambitions threefold and carbon neutrality must be reached before 2050. According to the Paris Agreement, countries must renew or revise the climate commitments they submitted in 2015 (Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)) upwards by the end of 2020. They must correspond to the “highest level of ambition possible”. The EU has already undertaken to increase its targets for 2030 and is also working under the European Green Deal to become the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050.

UIC proposes to go one step further and is launching a communication campaign by revising some of the sector’s commitments, both at a European level and at a global level.

Railway climate responsibility pledge

At the UN Climate Summit in September 2014, UIC presented the Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge – Technical Report. This initiative sets out a vision for the development of the railway sector at the global level as a sustainable alternative to other modes of transportation that are more carbon intensive, such as road transport and aviation. The challenge includes three sets of voluntary targets: to improve rail efficiency, to decarbonize electricity supply, and to achieve a more sustainable balance of transport modes.

At this time, European and global targets were designed to be complementary, whilst reflecting the different realities at European and world level.

UIC is committed to reducing specific final energy consumption per traffic unit (50% by 2030 and 60% by 2050) and specific average CO2 emissions per traffic units from train operations (50% by 2030 and 75% by 2050), all relative to a 1990 baseline.

In 2014, UIC also launched the Modal Shift Challenge, calling for investments that encourage a move to rail transport away from more carbon intensive transport options. The target was to achieve a 50% increase of the share of rail in passenger transport (in passenger-km) by 2030 compared to 2010, and a 100% increase by 2050. One key component of the Modal Shift Challenge was the Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge, which set out industry actions to complement the targets set for railways world-wide. During the Train to Paris high-level event in November 2015, this pledge was presented to high-level representatives of the United Nations. The Climate Responsibility pledge has been signed by more than 60 UIC members, representing most of global rail activity.

In 2019, UIC proposes to go one step further by aligning its 2050 CO2 emissions target to something that is becoming more and more widely shared as a consensual target to achieve the Paris Agreement: carbon neutrality by 2050 (instead of - 75% by 2050).
Pledge content

According to the Paris Agreement, countries must renew or increase their commitments by the end of 2020, by amending their Nationally Determined Contributions submitted in 2015. They must correspond to the highest level of ambition possible. Therefore, UIC is committed to go further.

The Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge 2019 is an extension to the Pledge signed in 2015.

As an official representative of a UIC Member, I acknowledge the critical importance to take immediate action for a more sustainable future.

I recognise the central role of railways in the fight against climate change.

As a member of the worldwide community of railway operators and infrastructure managers, I commit to take a leading role in the actions to mitigate climate change, by reducing my company’s carbon footprint and supporting a shift towards a more sustainable balance of transport modes.

In order to achieve this, I commit to:

  1. Reduce my company’s specific energy consumption and CO2 emission, and through this contribute to the UIC “Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge”, presented in 2014 at the United Nations Climate Summit, and to the Rail Climate Responsibility Pledge, signed in 2015;
  2. Carbon Neutrality by 2050;
  3. Contribute to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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