Tuesday 4 October 2016
Sustainable Development / Handbook

2016 Edition of the UIC-IEA Railway Handbook on Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions focuses on sustainability targets

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) and UIC have officially launched the new edition of the UIC-IEA Railway Handbook on Energy Consumption & CO2 Emissions. The 2016 publication marks the fifth year of cooperation between the two organisations and aims at providing insightful information, each year covering a special feature. In the past, these topics have ranged from the energy mix in the rail sector to the cost and sustainability impacts associated with rail infrastructure to vehicle efficiency. The new edition takes into account the Paris Agreement, the historic outcome of the 21st UNFCC Conference of Parties (COP21) in December 2015 in which more than 180 countries pledged to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With each new edition, the rail and energy data continue to improve as a result of the close cooperation between the IEA and the UIC. For this 2016 Handbook, the main improvement results from the collection of more detailed and accurate energy data from UIC members. In addition to the existing collected and validated information for European railways, Russia, Japan, USA, China, India and South Korea, among others, have made particularly noteworthy strides to improve data within the report.

As in previous editions, Part I of this year’s Handbook is dedicated to presenting the most significant data and trends concerning energy consumption and CO2 emissions from the rail sector, focusing on the most relevant regions in terms of rail activity, namely EU 28, USA, Japan, Russia, India and China. This serves to place a spotlight on the regions and countries which cumulatively accounted for 89% of passenger-kilometres and 84% of tonne-kilometres travelled globally in 2013. In addition, statistics illuminating rail-related CO2 emissions, passenger activities, freight activities, and electrification rates at a regional and global level are published within this section.

Furthermore, this Part pays particular attention to the growing role of high-speed trains in the rail sector, including but not limited to global coverage and the number of kilometres (in operation, construction, and planning phases). The sector of high-speed rail infrastructure was dominated by China in 2013, as it hosts 60% of the global High-Speed rail infrastructure, followed by Europe which accounts for a share of 24%.

Part II of this year’s handbook emphasises the analysis and the evaluation of rail sector and national targets, also compared to other modes of transport. The results of our analysis indicate that historical evolution of specific energy consumption and specific CO2 emissions from rail are on track to achieving the 2030 and 2050 UIC Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge targets, moving the rail sector towards the 2 Degree Scenario (2DS) outlined in the IEA Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) publication. The Handbook presents for the first time the evolution of the rail global targets set by UIC in 2014, supported by the outcomes of the commitment on reporting signed in 2015 by UIC Members through the Climate Responsibility Pledge inside the ‘Train To Paris’ campaign.

The special focus on sustainability targets in this handbook delivers a clear message to the audience: rail transport offers a more sustainable alternative to most other transport modes, both in terms of energy use and carbon emissions per passenger-kilometre or tonne-kilometre, and is anticipated to continue to do so over the coming decades.

Part II also zooms in on commitments made by single countries to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. In this context, an analysis is included of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – representing the outlined actions individual countries intend to take under the Paris Agreement – aimed at understanding the extent to which single countries include the transport sector and the rail sector in their pledges.

This is just some of the key information provided in the Handbook that emphasises the decisive role of the rail sector in meeting global climate and economic challenges.

This publication has only been possible thanks to the support of UIC members and their annual contributions to UIC Statistics and to the Environmental Strategy Reporting System (ESRS) of UIC. The direct data collection from railways covers over 90% of the global rail transport activity, and the incorporation of this information into the IEA Mobility Model has increased the consistency of the data, providing a more solid background for the analysis presented in this publication and into the Mobility Model of the IEA.

The production of the Railway Handbook 2016 has been a good opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the IEA and the UIC. This relationship has served to enrich and improve the knowledge of activity, energy and emissions data associated with the railway sector. The previous editions of the Handbook are freely available from the UIC website.

The IEA-UIC Railway Handbook on Energy Consumption & CO2 Emissions 2016 Edition is available at: http://www.uic.org/IMG/pdf/iea-uic_railway_handbook_2016.pdf

For further information please contact Gabriel Castañares Hernández, UIC Senior Advisor on Energy and CO2:


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