Five takeaways for public transport from COP21

 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - Istanbul, Turkey © iett

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Following the signing of a landmark deal for the climate in Paris at the weekend, UITP reflects on the key takeaways from an event that marks a key milestone for the public transport sector.

1. An historic agreement to combat climate change was agreed by 195 nations in Paris over the weekend.  For the first time, all nations have committed to a common cause on climate action based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

It is the beginning of the end for fossil fuels and a strong signal to markets for green investment and innovation.

2. The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.  The deal was hailed as being more ambitious than originally thought, marking the beginning of the end for fossil fuels and a strong signal to markets for green investment and innovation.

3. Currently, around a quarter of all countries that have identified specific transport interventions have pledged to focus efforts on public transport.  These are positive developments but there is considerable scope to do more.

The good news is that countries have agreed to submit updated climate plans every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation.

UITP members are a driving force for climate action. 

Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to $100bn by 2020.

4. UITP members are a driving force for climate action. Importantly, the landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society, including the public transport sector.

During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the commitment of sectors to take action.

Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, which included the UITP Declaration on Climate Leadership, viewing it as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement. The public transport sector’s efforts were given their due recognition at the transport day.

“The commitments to climate action pledged by our members under our Declaration are starting to be transformed into reality,” said UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch. “It shows that the sector has the capacity to deliver. If governments are committed to making ambitious targets for CO2 reductions, they will need the public transport sector and UITP is here to help them deliver on their commitments and monitor their progress.  That is part of our role for the years to come”.

5. Despite the landmark deal, the promises given by countries to curb their emissions in the run-up to the COP21 will fall far short of the two degree goal. Bridging the ‘emissions gap’ will require even more commitment from governments, which means an increased focus on developing public transport. So, in effect, the real work starts after Paris.

To read more about UITP and the public transport sector’s efforts at COP21, head to our Climate Action information hub:

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