The effects of climate change on transport — from compromised infrastructure, to reduced access and connectivity, to poor road safety and beyond — are already being felt in every region of the world.
Improving the environmental performance of transport, in addition to improving accessibility, efficiency and safety in inland transport systems, are of paramount importance to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.
To address this challenge, the Inland Transport Committee (ITC) made the “Environmental challenges to sustainable inland transport” the focus of its high-level policy segment this week in Geneva. Discussions covered adaptation measures to climate change, emissions mitigation and the role of the Committee to harness international cooperation to fight climate change.
To limit average global temperatures to a 1.5°C increase above pre-industrial levels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2018 that low-emission final energy in the transport sector would need to comprise a 35–65 per cent share in 2050, compared to just 5 per cent in 2020.
There is therefore a long way to go. ITC, in its role as the highest UN policy-making body in the field of inland transport, the equivalent of ICAO for air and IMO for maritime transport, supports and develops conventions and agreements that catalyze innovative solutions to this problem.
At the end of the high-level segment, Transport Ministers and High-level officials from across the globe signed a declaration today to make a united call for universal action to address the climate and environmental emergencies.
The Declaration recognizes the Committee’s relevance as a main avenue of the international efforts to find solutions for these challenges and by calling upon world transport leaders to embrace and intensify their support for the work of the Committee as the UN Platform for Inland Transport, to the benefit of the global community.
It also acknowledges that, through the United Nations conventions under its purview, the ITC is a key actor in improving the environmental performance of road transport, supporting the energy transition in the sector and accelerating the shift to more environmentally friendly modes of transport.
Most importantly, the declaration articulates a united call to transport leaders and global initiatives, starting with the Second Global Sustainable Transport Conference (5 to 7 May 2020, Beijing), to further strengthen the sustainable development of global transport and catalyse the commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“The ITC is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this urgent effort to combat climate change by improving the sustainability of transport,” said Yuwei Li, the Director of the Sustainable Transport Division of UNECE. “With the ITC’s seven-decade history of bringing governments together to create safer, more comprehensive and accessible mobility, strengthening its work to ensure greener transport will be a critical dimension of efforts towards our shared 2030 objectives.”