Information published on 24 September 2019 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 661.

UIC participated in the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York

  • Freight
  • Sustainable development
  • Climate Change
  • CO2 Emissions
  • International Event
  • Reporting
  • Representing

Mr François Davenne, UIC Director General, participated actively in the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on 21 and 22 September.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres convened the 2019 Climate Action Summit to increase the ambition to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to galvanise action that can limit climate change to 2°C and even 1.5°C as science now asks.

Global key transport leaders gathered during the UN Climate Action Summit to promote the role of transport in helping to achieve sustainable development and decarbonisation.

The session on heavy duty transport discussed topics ranging from standard setting to infrastructure development, policy asks, technology roadmaps towards net-zero and science-based targets. The event also addressed what is needed to establish consensus within the industry that net-zero CO2 emissions from the sector is technologically feasible by 2050 and focus R&D investments towards this goal.

Mr Davenne contributed to the session on “Heavy Duty Transport” along with Henrik Henriksson, President and CEO of Scania, Tarek Sultan, Frank Clary, Agility’s CSR Director, Sophie Punte, Executive Director of Smart Freight Centre (SFC),
Guangzhe Chen, Global Director for the Transport Team, World Bank and Ramon Cruz, International Policy Program Director, from Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

The UIC Director General emphasised that transport must become carbon neutral and that railway has a role to play as today it is four times less carbonised than the other modes. On top of that, UIC members intend to cut their emissions by 50% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.

As an exemple, lately UIC took part in Rail Freight Forward, a coalition of European rail freight companies who are committed to drastically reducing the negative impact of freight transport through innovation and a more intelligent transport mix. This coalition has the ambition to double the modal share of rail freight to 30% by 2030. RFF particularly insists on the fact that a higher modal share of 30% of rail freight by 2030 will lead to a 100 billion EUR economic gain due to less externalities, 290 million tons of saved CO2, 40,000 fewer premature deaths due to avoided pollution, 5,000 fewer fatalities due to saved truck accidents.

Railway is therefore a particularly efficient and sustainable mode of transport, benefiting from a decisive advantage linked to being economical in emissions and use of non-renewable resources.

He added that rail can become in the coming years the backbone of the logistic chain and underlined the need to take benefit from partnership and digital tools to foster multimodality: “modalshift should become desirable for the customer”.

To achieve this, railway needs investments to maintain its infrastructures, renew its rolling stocks and make it attractive, comfortable, secure and reliable to customers. Railway also needs the insurance that all modes pay not only for the use of the infrastructures they need, but also for the impacts that they generate (e.g. road pricing, congestion charges, taxes on kerosene, etc).

But, more importantly, undergoing technical developments are creating enablers that will make this vision possible.

  • The first enabler is that railways are increasingly thinking and designing their services the same way data networks are designed and managed.
  • The second enabler is multi-modality relying on 5G technologies. Big data management will make multimodality possible to an extent we cannot imagine now, provided that the technical bodies assume all their responsibilities to implement a 5G data transmission backbone.

The combination of those two processes will enable a massive modal shift to public transport in creating capacity, while reducing drastically the need of investments in CO2 emitting physical assets.

Beyond this participation in the UN Climate Summit, UIC is fully involved in the preparation of COP25. This event will allow UIC together with its partners such as ITF,UITP, SLOCAT, to continue to highlight the full potential of the railways.

Sources: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange

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