Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a Strong Call to Action for the Transport Sector

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The COP 21 Agreement, which will be signed on Friday 22nd April in New York, is unprecedented in terms of ambition with a commitment of moving to a target of well below the two-degree Celsius scenario (2DS) and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  “The Paris Climate Change Agreement has opened the door to a world where sustainable, low-carbon growth is our singular objective for the rest of this century”, says Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC. “Every sector of society and economy, including clean transport where some of the most rapid gains can be made, now needs to review their strategies, policies, investments and infrastructure to move them towards the goal of a much safer 1. 5 degree Celsius trajectory”.

The need for transport to respond to the challenge is broadly echoed. “So it is up to the sector to demonstrate how CO2-neutral transport can be achieved. If it doesn’t succeed, transport runs the risk of becoming the outlier and everyone’s favorite bad guy”, says Jose Viegas, Secretary General of the International Transport Forum (ITF).  The importance of transport and climate change is underscored by new champions emerging. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development pledges that UNCTAD will be assisting developing countries “to make informed climate and sustainable transport policy choices and providing associated technical assistance“. The reality till now is that transport emissions keep rising. Pierre Guislain, Senior Director for the Transport and Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Global Practice at the World Bank Group comments: “While the international community has the responsibility to ensure that the commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement are implemented, collective, global efforts on sustainable mobility have so far been insufficient”.  However the good news is that the potential for action is there. Michael Replogle, the Chairman of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), also the Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Policy in New York City, argues “The upward trajectory of transport sector greenhouse gas emissions is slowing as leading public and private organizations take steps to curb emissions.  The Paris Agreement is a wake-up call for more urgent action”.

Jean-Dominique Senard, Michelin CEO, highlights the positive business opportunities that meeting the challenge posed by the Paris Agreement draws: “beyond the legal requirement brought by the Paris Agreement as well as moral obligation towards our children, investing decisively in innovative mobility systems will contribute massively to renewed job creation and business vitality. The introduction of new economic instruments such as economy wide carbon pricing and partial de-risking of long-term investments in low-carbon solutions can help greatly in moving the business sector forward“.

Action on transport and climate change will be multifaceted and cover all major modes of transport. “The world community, including government, industry, investors and financial institutions, should tap into the significant decarbonization and sustainable development potential that lies within freight transport, a sector which is relatively less visible than urban and passenger transport”, says Mukhisa Kituyi, of UNCTAD.

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) will play an important role in scaling up action on transport and climate change. “As chair of the MDB Working Group on Sustainable Transport, we are working in partnership with seven other MDBs to prioritize sustainable, low carbon transport in the international development agenda”, says Tyrrell Duncan, Technical Advisor Transport in the Asian Development Bank. On the specific efforts of the ADB, “Asian Development Bank is scaling up its climate financing, including in the transport sector. It plans to double its annual climate financing to $6 billion by 2020. Through our Sustainable Transport Initiative, we are expanding our support for railways, urban transport and other forms of sustainable transport”.

With the upcoming strong increase, especially in urban population, “Public transport has a great potential to improve our response” adds Masaki Ogata, the President of the International Association of Public Transport and Vice Chairman of East Japan Railway Company (JR East).  The importance of healthier lifestyles is underscored by Bernhard Ensink the Secretary General of the European Cyclists Federation and the World Cycling Alliance, who speaks about: “a great opportunity to show again what cycling delivers already to climate action and many other Global Goals”. “Cities can be at the heart of this transition towards sustainable practices. In the twentieth century we saw cities designed to favor the private car. But more and more cities are now implementing policies that favor walking, cycling and public transport”, says Gino van Begin, Secretary General ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

The signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN in New York represents also a  stepping stone for the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate (PPMC) which has decided to re-launch its website (www.ppmc-transport.org) on this historic occasion. PPMC, the largest multi-stakeholder initiative on transport and climate change will build on its 2015 achievements. Clayton Lane, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) states: “The PPMC elevated transport to an unprecedented priority in the international agenda.  COP21 will be regarded as a game changer for Sustainable Transport thanks to collective leadership, resolute commitment, and a great coordinating effort”.

The PPMC efforts in 2016 will be guided by three principles:

  • Ambition to deliver on the targets set by the 2030 Goals on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change;
  • Convergence between the sustainable development and climate change agendas;
  • Balance in approaches that avoid, or reduce, the need to travel; approaches that promote modal shift towards the most effective modes of transport; approaches that improve the environmental performance of vehicles and fuels and their interconnected use; and approaches that enable new services and solutions.

The PPMC will deliver in 2016 three interlinked outputs that have the potential to galvanize the transport sector into action, both on climate change as well as on sustainable development:

  • A Common Framework on Transport, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, that provides a common narrative for the sector including a set of global targets;
  • A Global Road Map for the de-carbonization of the transport sector, that builds on opportunities offered by the need to transform;
  • Quick wins on transport, sustainable development and climate change that can kick start the transformation of the transport sector.

This approach builds on and aims to incorporate related new initiatives announced by key organizations in the sector. “We propose a clear global vision with a set of goals to support action across four pillars: universal access, efficiency, health & safety and climate respect”, says Pierre Guislain of the World Bank. Pursuing these four goals simultaneously will improve the lives of billions of people across the world. “The ITF’s new Decarbonising Transport project will make available tools for countries as well as for industry to choose the best policies to support COP21 objectives via industry-led progress in carbon-free mobility”, says Jose Viegas of ITF.


About the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate (PPMC):  The PPMC convenes networks, initiatives and organizations to raise the profile of sustainable, low carbon transport in the UNFCCC process as well the 2016 Habitat III Conference.  The Secretariat for the PPMC is formed by Michelin Challenge Bibendum (MCB) and the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT). www.ppmc-transport.org

About MCB: The MCB Community is an innovative and collaborative Think and Do Tank aimed at promoting better life through sustainable mobility. www.michelinchallengebibendum.com. For more information contact Patrick Oliva, patrick.oliva@fr.michelin.com

About SLoCaT: Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT is a multi-stakeholder partnership with 95 members including multi-lateral and bi-lateral development agencies, transport industry, civil society, research institutions and academe. works to promote the integration of sustainable. low carbon and resilient transport in global policies on sustainable development and climate change. For more information contact Cornie Huizenga, cornie.huizenga@slocatpartnership.org

 

Annex: Full Quotes.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The Paris Climate Change Agreement has opened the door to a world where sustainable, low-carbon growth is our singular objective for the rest of this century. Every sector of society and economy, including clean transport where some of the most rapid gains can be made, now needs to review their strategies, policies, investments and infrastructure to move them towards the goal of a much safer 1. 5 degree Celsius trajectory over the coming years and decades. We have to stay well below 2 degrees. We can limit it to 1.5.”

General José Viegas, Secretary General, International Transport Forum (ITF)

“COP21 has created an agenda with huge implications for transport. With the Paris agreement, nations are finally embarking on a step-by-step pathway towards decarbonisation. The text doesn’t mention the word transport. Neither do most national commitments by signatories; those that do are heavy on generalities and wishful thinking. Maritime transport and aviation were not even on the Paris agenda, as it had been recognized that international commitments are essential in those modes.

So it is up to the sector to demonstrate how CO2-neutral transport can be achieved. If it doesn’t succeed, transport runs the risk of becoming the outlier and everyone’s favourite bad guy. Already, CO2 emissions elsewhere are falling, while transport CO2 continues to grow. That is why the PPMC’s efforts to federate the industry are so valuable. The ITF’s new Decarbonising Transport project will make available tools for countries as well as for industry to choose the best policies to support of COP21 objectives via industry-led progress in carbon-free mobility”.

Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

“With climate change being integral to the sustainable development debate, the Paris Agreement sets the pace for a deep transformation in all sectors, including transport. The world community, including government, industry, investors and financial institutions, should tap into the significant decarbonization and sustainable development potential that lies within freight transport, a sector which is relatively less visible than urban and passenger transport. Indeed, greater benefit can be derived from freight transport by enhancing its role as the backbone of international trade while, at the same time, being economically and energy efficient, socially inclusive as well as climate and environmentally friendly. UNCTAD will continue, through its three pillars of work, to help advance towards these goals, including by assisting developing countries make informed climate and sustainable transport policy choices and providing associated technical assistance”.

Pierre Guislain, Senior Director for the Transport and Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Global Practice at the World Bank Group

“The Paris Climate agreement has put transport and mobility at the center of the climate change agenda.  A significant number of countries have committed in their NDCs to reduce the carbon footprint of their transport systems, for example by investing in rail, in waterways, or bus rapid transit systems. While the international community has the responsibility to ensure that the commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement are implemented, collective, global efforts on sustainable mobility have so far been insufficient. We propose a clear global vision with a set of goals to support action across four pillars: universal access, efficiency, safety and climate respect. Pursuing these four goals simultaneously will improve the lives of billions of people across the world in terms of health, environment and quality of life, and help stabilize climate change over the long run”.

Michael Replogle, New York City Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Policy– Chairman Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) Foundation. 

“Climate change poses a huge challenge to transportation. The upward trajectory of transport sector greenhouse gas emissions is slowing as leading public and private organizations take steps to curb emissions.  The Paris Agreement is a wake-up call for more urgent action. Every year we see growing harms from climate change on ecosystems and infrastructure, with ever growing costs. Studies show sustainable transport can help us meet adopted climate targets by shifting current and forecast expenditures towards more sustainable transport, generating hundreds of billions in annual cost savings. There are no magic solutions or technology fixes that alone address the challenge. Instead, a shift towards cleaner fuels and vehicles must be accompanied by a shift towards cleaner modes of transport, smarter urban development and logistics planning, and a greater focus on operating and managing transport systems for efficiency and equity of access for all. New York City is working to meet these challenges by focusing on improving mass transit, giving greater priority to walking, cycling, and buses in traffic, urban freight strategies that boost efficiency and environmental performance, and enhanced use of technology to operate and manage transportation to meet sustainable development goals”.

Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO, Michelin

“Beyond the legal requirement brought by the Paris Agreement as well as moral obligation towards our children, investing decisively in innovative mobility systems will contribute massively to renewed job creation and business vitality. The introduction of new economic instruments such as economy wide carbon pricing and partial de-risking of long-term investments in low-carbon solutions can help greatly in moving the business sector forward”.

Tyrrell Duncan, Technical Advisor (Transport), Asian Development Bank

“Addressing climate change in Asian developing countries is going to be pivotal for the success of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. With CO2 emissions growing rapidly, these countries need support to move to a lower emissions trajectory. Transport is one of the key sectors where change is needed. Over-reliance on motor vehicles is a critical problem causing traffic congestion and high levels of vehicle emissions. Freight needs to make more use of cleaner modes such as railways. Cities need good quality, affordable mass transit systems, together with better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Asian Development Bank is scaling up its climate financing, including in the transport sector. It plans to double its annual climate financing to $6 billion by 2020. Through our Sustainable Transport Initiative, we are expanding our support for railways, urban transport and other forms of sustainable transport. As chair of the MDB Working Group on Sustainable Transport, we are working in partnership with seven other MDBs to prioritize sustainable, low carbon transport in the international development agenda.”

Masaki Ogatato,  UITP President, Vice Chairman, East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Tokyo, Japan

“Nowadays, there are many issues such as natural disasters, population explosion, ICT revolution, globalisation, aging infrastructure, traffic congestion, CO2 emissions and so on in the world. Public transport has a great potential to improve our response to these issues. UITP is expected to understand these issues and recognise the differences and similarities among the areas in order to make proposals for their solution. I, as president of UITP, will devote myself to solving the issues in order to develop public transport”.

Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General European Cyclists Federation and World Cycling Alliance

“The Paris Agreement is for the ‘cycling sector’ a great opportunity to show again what cycling delivers already to climate action and many other Global Goals. The INDCs could be improved by national strategies for investments in cycling infrastructure and projects. This would support all the people that are ready and willing to cycle more for all the benefits it has for themselves and societies if it is safe and convenient. To raise the awareness of the importance of cycling worldwide we are spreading the results of the study ‘A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario’ (*) and who announces a new global advocacy: “We are campaigning now for a World Bicycle Day, to be observed by the UN”.

(*) https://ecf.com/sites/ecf.com/files/A-Global-High-Shift-Cycling-Scenario_Nov-2015.pdf

Gino van Begin, Secretary General ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

“If we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the transport sector will have to implement a radical shift towards sustainable practices. Cities can be at the heart of this transition. In the twentieth century we saw cities designed to favor the private car. This approach has created congestion, pollution and emissions, decreasing the quality of life for urban dwellers and contributing to climate change. But more and more cities are now implementing policies that favor walking, cycling and public transport – what we at ICLEI call “EcoMobility”. These EcoMobility policies have multiple benefits. They contribute to global efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, of course. But they also increase the health of citizens by reducing air pollution and promoting exercise. They offer mobility options to the urban poor, who are marginalized by policies that favor private cars. And in the long run, EcoMobility policies create more compact, connected cities, reducing urban sprawl and making urban life safer, easier and more fulfilling”.

Clayton Lane, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy

“The PPMC elevated transport to an unprecedented priority in the international agenda.  COP21 will be regarded as a game changer for Sustainable Transport thanks to collective leadership, resolute commitment, and a great coordinating effort. Still we have more to do: We must press for greater priority of “Avoid / Shift” solutions – particularly walking, cycling, and compact cities.  These zero-carbon solutions could serve billions of daily trips and save cities $3 trillion by 2030, yet remain largely missing from the international dialogue. We must press for greater ambition toward a 1.5-degree scenario among national governments, whose NDCs fall well short of even a 2-degree scenario.  We must help countries translate their NDCs into action, by developing plans that link their commitments to the SDGs. We must mobilize finance (Green Climate Fund, NAMAs, etc.). Cities must continue to be ambitious and lead the way.  NDCs are not the only source of climate action. Our achievements together in COP21 give me great hope – that with continued collective action, we can achieve all this and more”.