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Public transport part of the solution at COP27: Mohamed Mezghani

  • Africa
  • Global
  • Advocacy
  • Air pollution
  • Climate
  • COP
  • Sustainability
As climate talks conclude...

…more should be done

Last week the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Egypt. A COP in Africa. While the effects of the Climate Crisis severely affect thousands more people on a daily basis. While conflict is ongoing in Europe. During which the eight billionth citizen of the world was born… It is safe to say that the stakes in Sharm El Sheik were high.

  • Were expectations met? Not fully.
  • Should more be done? For sure.
  • Is the role of public transport and active mobility taken seriously? Definitely!

Of course, these expectations are to be considered within the main two objectives of this COP:

  1. Recognise the loss and damage that climate change has provoked in developing countries and agree on a way to compensate them,
  2. Achieve a commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

The fact that this edition takes place in Africa makes the first point even more critical. The continent emits only 3 to 4% of global CO2 emissions. But at the same time, its people suffer the consequences of the climate crisis most. They are the first to experience extreme heat, the first to see rivers run dry, and the first to be forced to leave their home to survive.

Unfortunately a commitment to phase out fuel was not achieved.

My thoughts on COP27

Nations lack pride in their public transport investments

Mobility was underrepresented on the pavillions. Even though it represents almost 30% of the global CO2 emissions and transport is the sector with the fastest growth in GHG emissions. Nevertheless, two countries clearly highlighted the role of urban mobility: #Senegal and #Israel. It’s a pity that #UAE, who will be hosting the next COP and had one of the biggest pavillons, had almost exclusively focused its messages on energy and technologies. They made no mention of the progress the public transport sector made in Dubai for example. They even displayed a model of a plane. It feels like they are not proud of the achievements in public transport. In many countries that is sadly still the case.

But public transport is on the climate agenda

COP27, under the leadership of the Egyptian presidency has put public transport on the agenda. With the support of UITP and other associations, a new initiative, LOTUS, was launched. It has the objective to to tackle 5 systemic challenges in the urban mobility landscape, specifically in the Global South. Another initiave, SURGe, focusing on cities, covers urban mobility too. As UITP co-leads tracks in both initiatives we will be heavily involved in their development and push hard for a leading role for public transport. I consider this outcome a significant and positive step forward from the way public transport was covered in the previous COP in Glasgow. While #COP26 focused on vehicles and technology, #COP27 put people and their wellbeing at the heart of the solution.

Read more about the initiatives and the roal of UITP on our website: https://www.uitp.org/news/key-role-for-public-transport-in-climate-conference-initiatives/

African mobility ambition is huge

Being an African COP, this edition has attracted a high participation from the continent. Not only amongst the delegates but also amongst the pavillions and the international organisations. It is clear that the ambition for Africa in the field of transport and mobility is huge. With a growing number of investment projects, multi- and bilateral funding institutions are interested to be involved. This is excellent news. Nevertheless, for this development to take place African cities will need empowered transport authorities and capacity building. With its renewed approach for Africa in collaboration with UATP, UITP will aim to play an active role to support this development. Our discussions with the African Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are very promising for future collaborations.

Public transport put its best foot forward

Our presence in Sharm El Sheikh offered the opportunity to meet with UITP members and partners from Egypt and beyond, and be involved with them in many working sessions. A new member, ACTA, has joined UITP at this occasion. Also, we could appreciate the rapid development that Egypt is experiencing in the field of public transport. Multimodal networks are being established or extended in Cairo, Alexandria and the new Administrative Capital. Attendees of COP27 could enjoy the excellent organisation of the local bus network:  a fleet of 140 e-buses and 120 CNG buses, with simultaneous charging stations, an intelligent fleet management and automatic location system produced and deployed in less than four months. When there’s a will there’s a way.

COP27 was a huge step...

…COP28 will be a bigger leap

COP is a huge event with tens of thousands attendees. It’s not easy to navigate across the multiple pavilions, sessions and activities. It needs an important preparation to get the most out of it. I am lucky to be surrounded by colleagues who are proactive and skilled. This is not only good for UITP but for members and stakeholders at large.

In the end I am proud of the work we do to advance public transport. Every day, we do our bit to build healthier, happier and stronger cities. COP27 was a huge step forward, and at COP28, we will take an even bigger leap.

Mohamed Mezghani: Acting on behalf of Mohamed Mezghani SARL


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