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Public transport...

…the solution for sustainable low carbon cities

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.

More climate ambition is possible with public transport

Transport accounts for approximately a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and they continue to rise year on year, but a 1.5°C degrees pathway for transport is possible with public transport leading the way. There is still time to act but more ambitious national action is needed now, so all countries must strengthen their climate plans by including and prioritising public transport in climate policy, regulatory and fiscal frameworks.

Public transport and active mobility is the fastest and most cost-effective solution to reduce urban emissions and decarbonise people’s daily mobility. Society will benefit from every increase in a modal share to public transport, through fewer road fatalities and injuries, more inclusive access to opportunities, reduced congestion, improved air quality and freeing up space in our cities.

Public transport must be seriously prioritised for climate investment, especially in developing countries worldwide, as it is an investment in a complete, inclusive, equitable, resilient climate solution. This will simultaneously contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which is consistent with long-term climate strategies and inclusive growth.

The public transport sector is committed to act, deliver the carbon emissions reductions needed now, and lead by example in the transition to a net-zero pathway in our cities. UITP is calling on all global stakeholders — from development banks, national and local governments, public transport undertakings and companies – to come together in our journey to zero emissions public transport.

Let us not forget this critical element in addressing climate change and decarbonising transport. The world cannot wait, and neither can the people who need better access, every day, to the jobs, urban opportunities and city services that will improve their lives and the well-being for all.

4 key recommendations

Public transport is the best solution to decarbonise cities, while simultaneously making them more resilient to disruptions caused by climate change. By financing transport systems with the right mechanisms and by governments and non-state actors collaborating to rapidly upscale and replicate low carbon urban public transport solutions, public transport can lead the way to a 1.5°C degrees pathway for transport.

Click on the headings below and discover UITP’s key recommendations.

Mitigation – prioritise public transport to decarbonise urban mobility
Adaptation – make cities more resilient with public transport
Finance – scale up investment in public transport
Collaboration – raise NDC ambition with public transport

Read our hand-picked COP news

17 Nov. 22

Key role for public transport in climate conference initiatives

14 Nov. 22

UITP publishes report ‘public transport for healthy low carbon cities’

09 Nov. 22

UITP advances public transport in annual climate conference

16 Sep. 22

COP27 to bring sustainable transport to the forefront of this year's climate talks

04 Nov. 21

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

Advancing public transport at COP

Since the early 2000s UITP has been present at COP to advance public transport. For COP26, the 2021 climate gathering in Glasgow, 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.

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:

  • 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

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.”

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*


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