“In the run up to COP26, our focus was on getting the message across about the importance of public transport”, says Philip Turner, UITP Head of Sustainable Development. “During the event itself, we were far more involved in the negotiation process; how to implement these national commitments and what is the structure?”
First and foremost, countries need to revisit their national strategies. Currently only 30% feature public transport in their national plans. Philip Turner: “They are just not ambitious enough. Looking ahead, we will organise regional climate conferences to look at ways to strengthen those national commitments.”
Secondly, in going from strategy to action, COP26 was the first to bring together transport ministers during a negotiation. This was a very significant moment for COP, as it sets a clear precedent moving forward. But the meeting also established UITP’s position, as it was one of only three non-ministerial organisations invited.
Thirdly, there’s a lot more focus on the need for building technical skills and capacity for change. UITP worked closely with UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to include text, agreed upon by all member states, to say that we need to find solutions that are fit for local authorities. Looking ahead at 2022, it is clearly stated that countries need to find local level examples of best practices that can be replicated.
“The main takeaway for me is that our advocacy work is having a clear influence on the outcomes of these discussions”, concludes Philip Turner. “I see it as future opportunity to help direct that investment. While lots of people have been seeing COP as a glass half empty, I see it as a glass half full; a real opportunity with moving ahead.”