Information published on 19 November 2013 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 374.

UIC attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP19, in Warsaw

UIC attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP19, in Warsaw to advocate greater investment in rail as the backbone of sustainable low-carbon transport systems.

UIC side event at COP19

On Saturday 16 November, UIC jointly organised a side event in partnership with Embarq (NGO working to promote Sustainable Transport) held at the COP19 venue, the Polish National Stadium. The side event title was ‘Sustainable Transport & Low Emission Development Strategy, mitigation & adaptation to climate change’. An introduction to the role of rail in low-carbon transport was provided by Willy Bontinck (SNCB and Chairman of the UIC Energy, Environment & Sustainability), the event also featured presentations by:

  • Mr Szymon Grabowski – Director of Infrastructure, PKP Intercity S.A. on reducing carbon emission through the procurement of energy efficient rolling stock
  • Mrs Ewa Makosz – Director of Environment Protection, PKP PLK S.A. on the risks posed by extreme weather events and climate change adaptation.
  • Mr Jean-François Gagne – Head of Energy Technology Policy Division International energy Agency on Global transport outlook to 2050: opportunities and costs in the transport sector under low carbon scenarios

The event was attended by representatives from a range of transport organisations, NGOs and professionals working on climate change solutions. UIC used the event to demonstrate that investment in rail can help to de-carbonise transport and also to show the steps taken by the sector to adapt to climate change. It concluded with a engaging question and answer session.

Transport Day 2013

On Sunday 17 November, UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux represented the rail sector during the Plenary Session of Transport Day 2013. UIC was invited to speak on behalf of the rail sector by the co-organisers; the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport SloCat and the Bridging the Gap initiative.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his message to Transport Day, called for “new ways of moving goods and people. I have called a Climate Summit in September 2014 to raise political will and catalyse concrete action on all climate-related issues, including sustainable transport”. The Secretary General commented that the $175 billion voluntary commitment of the world’s eight largest development banks at Rio+20 “has helped to make sustainable transport a significant feature of discussions on the post-2015 development agenda”.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, commented that “The arguments for low-carbon transport are strong. The challenge is finance. And that’s where the international community can help to scale up sustainable transport,” says. “Efficient, safer, and low-carbon transportation is essential for addressing climate change. We owe it to ourselves and our children to get this right.”

Mr Loubinoux used his appearance to explain how modal shift to rail transport can help to mitigate Climate Change, illustrating this point with key statistics, including;

  • Rail transport is responsible for just 3% of transport CO2 emissions but moves 9% of people and goods, in stark contrast to the road sector which is responsible for 72% share of transport emissions but moves just 34% of people and goods.
  • At world level, between 2000-2010, the rail sector has reduced CO2 per passenger-km by 32%, and per freight tonne-km by 18%.
  • Within the EU the railways now consume 21% of electricity from renewable sources, significantly exceeding the 2020 target of 10%: this compares favourably to the transport sector as a whole which is at just 5%.

UIC launched the 2013 edition of the UIC-IEA Railway Handbook on Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions at Transport Day. This book presents compelling evidence, validated by the International Energy Agency, of the rail sectors low carbon performance.

Interesting presentations were given on railway investment projects in South Africa and Ethiopia as solutions to climate change, to be part funded by the UNFCCC as National Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).

The audience at Transport Day included Nikhil Seth, Director Sustainable Development Division, UN-DESA & Donald Cooper, Coordinator of the Mitigation, Data and Analysis Programme UNFCCC in addition to numerous Development Banks and representatives of the Sustainable Transport Community.

For further information please contact Nick Craven: craven@uic.org