Information published on 2 July 2019 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr eNews.

UIC co-organised a side event with UITP as part of the UN Climate Change Conference on 26 June 2019 in Bonn

The goal was to raise awareness on how the Global Climate Action transport initiatives are developing strategies in order to scale up national ambitions with regard to decarbonising transport.

Speakers included representatives from transport initiatives and leading international organisations engaged in low carbon transport responsible for implementing activities in the transport sector.

It was a great honour to have the high-level champion for COP24, Tomasz Chruszczow, Special Envoy for Climate Change from the Ministry of Environment in Poland, on the panel of speakers.

As an Introduction, Mark Major, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Low Carbon Transport Partnership (SLoCaT), presented what is at stake for the transport sector, being the third largest CO2-emitting sector and experiencing the second largest growth.

Wei-Shiuen Ng, Advisor for Sustainable Transport and Global Outreach at ITF (OECD), spoke about ITF’s in-house models covering all modes of transport. It analyses how the world could change if different policies and development paths were chosen. This also shows the importance of managing change. Unmanaged disruption leads to modal shift towards private car use in urban areas, managed disruption (policy actions and regulation to support transition) can result in significantly more sustainable urban mobility.

Carole Escolan-Zeno, Head of Sustainability Unit, UIC, explained why railway transport is a key actor to decarbonize the transport sector. Rail is one of the most efficient and sustainable modes of transport. While covering 8% of the world’s passenger transport, it represents only 2% of total energy demand (1/10th of the NRJ needed to move an individual by car or by airplane, 88% less NRJ than medium trucks per tkm). In terms of C02 emissions, rail represents between 2 and 4% of CO2 emissions of the sector.

The railway sector is also committed to going further, through electrification (today, 75% of passenger rail transport activity takes place on electric trains vs. 60% in 2000), through the use of renewable energy, new technologies (such as hydrogen locomotives) and processes (DAS, Eco driving).

For rail to maintain the current share of passenger transport and to continue to play a role in freight supply chains, it will require an increase in investment of 50% more than levels in recent years. This means that we need a massive increase in railway infrastructure investment, the insurance that all modes of transport pay the fair price for the use of the infrastructure they need, as well as for the impacts that they generate (polluter pays principle).

Philip Turner, Senior Expert Sustainable Development at UITP, spoke about its declaration on climate leadership, aiming at doubling the market share of public transport by 2025, building capacity and technical knowledge through 350 projects on the ground, committing to support cities and governments and to report and implement SDGs.

Tsu-Jui Cheng, Programme Manager and Global Coordinator, Sustainable Urban Mobility, at ICLEI, presented the eco-mobility initiative. He showed how eco-mobility, including walking, cycling and wheeling, use of public transport, shared mobility and light electric vehicles, used in an integrated and connected manner, can be environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

Finally, Michael Winter, Head of Marketing, Communications & International Affairs at Rail Cargo Austria AG, presented the Rail Freight Forward Initiative. This coalition of European rail freight companies has set itself the goal to drastically reduce the negative effects of freight transport on mobility, climate and environment by shifting goods from road to rail. Their vision is to transform rail freight into a high-performing, efficient and sustainable backbone transport system. Their ambition is to increase the current modal share of rail freight in Europe from 17% to 30% by 2030. This higher modal share will lead to a 100 billion EUR economic gain due to less externalities, 290 million tons of saved CO2, 40,000 less premature deaths due to avoided pollution, 5,000 less fatalities due to saved truck accidents.
Exchanges with the audience were fruitful.

Please consult the link to the event on the UNFCCC website:

For further information please contact Carole Escolan-Zeno, Head of the UIC Sustainable Development Unit:

escolan-zeno at

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