‘Railways underexposed at climate summit’

Photo: Nicky Boogaard

Rail was too low on the agenda at the climate summit in Glasgow. “Let’s move people and not cars”, say the European Public Transport Association and international rail industry association UITP and UIC to the world leaders in a statement. In the area of mobility, too much was about the transition to electric cars in their view.

The transport sector is responsible for around 23 per cent of global CO2 emissions and, without action, this share will rise to 40 per cent by 2030. More and better public transport and rail is the fastest solution to reduce emissions, UITP and UIC argue. But that was not the subject of enough discussion at the climate conference, according to the two industry associations. “Solutions that are already available today can halt the rising emissions from transport this decade, but they are too low on the agenda.”

Public transport and rail as the backbone

The debate on mobility solutions to combat climate change should therefore be rebalanced, especially in cities. OV and rail should be the backbone of this approach. “By focusing only on the transition to electric cars, there is a real risk that our roads will remain unsafe and congested, with ongoing problems with air pollution.”

While electric cars are called an important solution by UITP and UIC, they are certainly not the only one. “We must also focus on transport solutions that provide access to safe and inclusive mobility for all,” is the message to world leaders. “They offer an affordable, efficient, safe and environmentally sustainable means of transport. One that promotes green growth and reduces inequality while strengthening the fight against air pollution and climate change.”

“If we really want to make transport faster, cheaper and easier for everyone, let’s first provide people with more and better rail and public transport,” the associations conclude their plea.

Emission-free buses

This Friday is the last official day of the climate summit, the 26th United Nations conference on climate change. In the field of mobility, this week several world leaders declared the goal that all new buses sold as of 2040 should be zero-emission.

Earlier this week, the fact that a number of world leaders and celebrities travelled to the climate summit by private jet was strongly criticised. Critics called the choice to travel to a conference on climate change with a polluting means of transport hypocritical.

Author: Esther Geerts

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