UIC consulted national governments on proposals for modal shift as a solution to climate change at the UN Climate Ascent in Abu Dhabi on 4 and 5 May.
The Ascent was designed to achieve a major shift from negotiations to engagement on action and attracted over 1,000 participants, including 70 government ministers.
The two-day Ascent meeting was co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon and the Government of the United Arab Emirates to prepare for the Climate Summit that will be held on 23 September in New York to raise ambition and action for climate change.
UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon stated that sensed change was in the air “I challenge you to be part of that change – to be at the head of the race.” He also warned governments and major businesses “Don’t get left behind. Don’t be on the losing side of history” and went on to state that “Those who are prepared to lead can expect considerable returns. The business opportunities of the low-carbon economy are great. The social and environmental benefits for countries in all regions are yet to be realised.”
The event featured a number of high level speakers including a keynote speech by former Vice President of the United States Al Gore and a conversation on climate change with former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair.
During a dedicated transport breakout session, UIC engaged delegates from national governments by illustrating the low carbon performance of rail. UIC also proposed modal shift as a solution to climate change and an essential step for securing the 2 degrees scenario and decoupling of economic growth from CO2 emissions. The UIC session focussed on a discussion of key enablers for modal shift:
- Rail placed as the backbone of sustainable transport master-plans, at both national and international levels
- Investment in new rail projects
- Investment in existing rail infrastructure
- Simplified border controls to support international and intercontinental fright corridors
- The right environment for private finance initiatives
- Smart land use planning
- Internalisation of external costs (e.g. via road pricing)
The UIC proposal was later highlighted by Helen Clarke, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, as a model initiative during her summing up of the event.
UIC will follow up this consultation at the UN Climate Summit on 23 September in New York.
An interview with UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux on the UIC proposals is available here http://slocat.net/ascent-interview-jean-pierre-loubinoux-international-union-railway