COP16 was finalised last week and resulted in the Cancún Agreement, which has provided fresh optimism for the COP-process and the leading role of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Cancún Agreement builds on the decisions taken a year ago in Copenhagen and also sets out processes for making further progress in the future. It represents a balanced compromise between different interests within the United Nations system. Key elements of the package include:
- Acknowledgement for the first time in a UN document that global warming must be kept below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial temperature, and establishment of a process to define a date for global emissions to peak and a global emissions reduction goal for 2050
- Recognition of the need to increase emissions reductions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+)
- Promotion of low-carbon technology transfer to global south countries
- Establishment of a $100 billion green fund to assist global south countries in mitigating CO2 emissions
From a transport perspective there has been more attention given to transport than ever before in the COP process. The African Development Bank announced a Green Fund with an explicit mitigation window for sustainable transport. Nevertheless some observers commented that transport still needs more focus in the COP process in order to reduce the continued global growth of CO2 emissions from transport.
UIC, accredited as the official observer association for railways, participated actively at COP16, having co-organised an official side event with UNEP (the UN Environment Programme) and ITPS (Institution for Transport Policy Studies). The side event pointed out the important role of rail in transport emissions reductions and future sustainable transport regimes. Furthermore, Senior Advisor Margrethe Sagevik participated in the transport panel of the World Climate Summit, bringing together over 800 industry, business and government representatives, and NGO leaders from five continents. The updated version of the global rail position paper on climate change ‘Keeping Climate Solutions on Track’ was distributed among others to COP16 participants at the frequently visited UIC stand in the exhibition area.
Finally, as a follow-up to the Train to Copenhagen campaign organised last year for COP15, UIC is honoured to announce that the campaign has been shortlisted among the top 5 candidates from over 1400 entrants for the prestigious European Excellence Awards 2010 in the International Communications category, alongside General Electric, L’Oreal, BMC Software and Electrolux, which received the award.
The next step for UIC
The UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility & Transport, which has so far been signed by 40 members, will be officially presented at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD 19) in New York City in May 2011, where new policies on transport and sustainable development should be agreed upon. A high level event to promote rail’s role for sustainable development, decarbonising transport and ‘Green Economy’ is planned for the meeting. UIC is in contact with the United Nations to develop the concept for this event.