One focus area of discussions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice (COP24, 2-14 December) will be on the importance of swiftly transitioning to low-carbon transport to address the impact of climate change.
The transportation sector has seen faster emissions growth than any other over the last 50 years. Transport is responsible for 23% of the global energy-related carbon emissions and is a major source of air pollution. Research from C40 Cities shows that the improvement of public transport could prevent the premature deaths of nearly one million people per year from air pollution and traffic fatalities worldwide.
The sector has a huge opportunity to promote solutions to climate change and leaders will be showcasing best practices at COP24. For example, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the International Union of Railways (UIC) will advocate for more and better public transport and sustainable rail mobility.
E-mobility will also be one of the main topics under discussion at COP24. Ahead of the conference, Michał Kurtyka, President of COP24, presented the “Driving Change Together Partnership”, a new initiative for the development of zero-emission transport.
Poland has already gathered experience in implementing legislation and projects linked to electromobility, including through a program implemented by UITP. Since 2013, the global network of public transport stakeholders has coordinated the “Zero Emission Urban Bus System” (ZeEUS), aimed at testing electrification solutions at the heart of urban bus system networks through live demonstrations.
This year, the project organizers shared their results in the Polish capital and nine other cities. In Warsaw, it was demonstrated that electric buses are fully substitutable for their diesel counterparts on the same route, bus line 222, which passes through the congested center as well as the historic part of the city. Local bus operator MZA aims to keep pursuing the zero-emission path started with the program by expanding its fleet to 30 electric buses in 2018 and purchasing 130 e-buses between 2019 and 2020.
ZeEUS and other projects demonstrate UITP’s support to national commitments and implementation on public transport which will allow countries to be more ambitious on climate change in support of the Paris Agreement. By signing UITP’s Declaration on Climate Leadership, the sector has committed to support the doubling of the market share of public transport by 2025 and pledged over 350 projects to climate action in over 80 cities around the world.
UIC, a worldwide rail organisation with 240 members spanning five continents, already demonstrated climate leadership by launching its Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge at COP21 in 2015.
Total worldwide rail activity generates less than 5% of energy-related carbon emissions from transport, which shows that rail can also be a key part of the solution to the climate challenge.
During COP24, PKP, Poland’s railway operator and a member of UIC, will present an exhibition at the train station of Katowice to demonstrate ecological solutions available on its railway, such as electric vehicle charging stations, a hybrid locomotive and a mobile charging station.
“2018 brought great opportunities and partnerships for the railway sector around innovation to lower rail’s environmental impact and door to door solutions to support a modal shift. It also brought encouraging results as UIC members happen to be well ahead of our time to answer great challenges faced by the industry such as lower greenhouse gas emissions” said UIC Director General, Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. “Let’s hope this 2018 Conference of Parties will be a great opportunity to further increase rail attractiveness and show how rail is one of the most sustainable modes of transport.”
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