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Public transport fights climate change

And UITP advocated for our sector’s role at COP26

Beginning in 1995 with COP1, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) organises the formal meeting of all relevant parties for the annual COPthe Conference of the Parties.

UITP has attended and participated since the 2000s, with our activity increasing in the past ten years with the growth of our internal sustainable development and advocacy activities.

For COP26, the most recent climate gathering (Glasgow, 31 October-14 November 2021), UITP hosted, participated and engaged in numerous meetings, side and fringe events, transportation thematic panels and meetings with decision makers, including Mayors and Ministers from around the world, engaged with the media and all external stakeholders across our week in Scotland.

The world needs more public transport and we made the case for placing our sector at the heart of the climate agenda.

We know that public transport must feature high on the agenda of decision makers as a key solution to tackle the climate crisis: therefore our presence and participation in Glasgow was even more vital.

Read our selected COP news

16 Nov. 21

Pushing public transport up the climate agenda: UITP concludes our actions at COP26

10 Nov. 21

It’s time to be clear: Rail and public transport are the quickest way to reach decarbonisation

04 Nov. 21

A smooth ride to renewable energy: UITP collaborates with REN21 as COP26 begins

03 Nov. 21

The world needs more public transport: UITP is delivering on climate action at COP26

19 Oct. 21

UITP and ETF issue a new Joint Statement calling for public transport to be at the heart of the COP26 climate talks

Three Key Outcomes of COP26

A Glass Half Full

“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.”

An agenda of advocacy

When it’s needed more than ever before

Led by our Secretary General Mohamed Mezghani, the UITP COP26 delegation made our case through participation in events, panels, bilateral meetings and press interviews, and meetings with ministers, mayors, leaders of the supplying industry, representatives of international organisations and peers from other professional associations.

We attended the Transport Ministerial, which was organised for the first time within the COP activities.

Whether on the COP campus with our members and the media, or alongside the World Health Organisation, or even aboard the HydroFLEX train, we offered solutions to the ongoing crisis.

And we made our case to the international media, with a strong presence before and during Glasgow.

Mohamed Mezghani speaks with the National newspaper
An interview with Forbes magazine and Mohamed Mezghani
The thoughts of Mohamed Mezghani as he departs COP26 by rail! 

As 70% of transport emissions take place in urban areas, it’s extremely important for UITP, on behalf of the global public transport sector, to show how our industry offers many solutions to help mitigate climate change. Our time in Glasgow was very well spent, and those in decision-making roles must increase their focus on public transport. I remain optimistic that we can deliver this change to provide a better future for everyone.
Mohamed Mezghani
UITP Secretary General*
  • 20 meetings

    Engaging in events, interviews and appearances

  • 10 news articles

    News articles and press releases on our website

  • 500 mentions and appearances

    In the global press

  • 50 dedicated COP26 tweets

    With almost 50k unique impressions, 200 mentions and 15k profile visits across three days

The future is public transport

And UITP will continue to fight for climate action

Public transport is about people, and it will be a people-focused future that helps our planet. That requires more attention from decision makers.

As of now, only around 30% of national climate action plans include public transport.

Public transport is a major solution to the climate crisis – therefore it should appear in all of them. The final COP26 climate agreement reached involves important targets for the world. It should include more focus on sustainable active mobility.

We have a determination to continue putting more focus on climate action with public transport.

The future direction of our planet depends on it #COP26 #TogetherForOurPlanet


*Acting on behalf of Mohamed Mezghani SARL


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