The Untapped Potential of the Clean Transport Sector

12 December 2014

In 2010, transport was responsible for 23% of energy-related CO2 emissions, with about two-thirds coming from road transport. Without concerted action, this number is poised to double in the next few decades. In order to stay beneath the IPCC recommended 2 °C scenario, it is essential that climate policy and action actively include transport.

Avoid-Shift-Improve (A-S-I) strategies provide strong potential in the transport sector, through mobility solutions based on sustainable transport systems. A-S-I works by avoiding or reducing the need to travel, shifting towards more environmentally friendly forms of travel, and improving the energy efficiency of vehicle technology and transport in general.

All components of this approach have been implemented at different levels both in developed and developing countries. Actions under this approach also have the great benefit of better air quality, and less road fatalities and congestion.

For example, the bus rapid transport (BRT) system in Lima, El Metropolitano, is a classic A-S-I project, and has expanded capacity and reduced travel times and emissions in ourhost city’s overcrowded streets.

Yet, the manner in which transport is being discussed in COP20 signals that parties are either not aware of the contribution of transport to GHG emissions, or they do not recognize the potential contribution transport can make towards respecting the 2° C  limit. The need for improved mass transport is not often mentioned when discussing climate finance, nor is it subject to much consideration in the technology-related institutions like the CTCN.

It is imperative to rapidly boost the standing of transport in the negotiations. The best strategy would be to combine a focus on transport as an item in the UNFCCC and broader action outside this process.

Within the UNFCCC, the emphasis needs to be on the INDCs as well as pre-2020 ambition. Growing evidence on mitigation potential in the transport sector must be translated into action by both developed and developing countries. Developing countries are especially important in this regard, and will be better able to take action if finance and technology can be tapped effectively.

The sustainable transport community invested heavily in the 2014 Climate Summit organized by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This resulted in 5 large-scale commitments on land transport to act on public transport, railways, electric mobility, fuel efficiency and green freight. These commitments provide further illustration of the mitigation potential and the willingness of the transport sector to act.

In preparing for Paris it is important to raise the visibility of sustainable transport as a mitigation action.

The Untapped Potential of the Clean Transport Sector

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