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Q&A on Role of sustainable transportation to combat climate change
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8 Jan 2016 - EXPERT VOICES

"With the historic agreement in Paris last month, the world has committed to striving toward a future where the global temperature rises no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now is the time for action and no climate action plan can be successful without inclusion of transport plans"

Role of sustainable transportation to combat climate change

The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport met on the margins of COP21 to discuss sustainable transport and climate change and its work plan for 2016. Here, the co-chairs, Carolina Toha, Mayor of Santiago, Chile and Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Volvo Group, share their views on the role of sustainable transport to combat climate change.

Q1. Why is sustainable transportation a key issue to combat climate change?

“With the historic agreement in Paris last month, the world has committed to striving toward a future where the global temperature rises no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now is the time for action and no climate action plan can be successful without inclusion of transport plans.

In 2010, the transport sector was responsible for approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions (23% of energy-related emissions). Emissions from transport are rising despite significant CO2 reduction efforts by many equipment manufacturers and logistics management providers. The transportation sector’s reliance on fossil fuels must be addressed.

Low carbon transportation systems offer significant mitigation potential while also enhancing growth and development, providing connectivity and reducing economic, environmental and social costs. Actions advancing adaptation or enhancing the resilience of transport infrastructure and services are also critical, including through preparedness, protection, response, and recovery.”

Q2. How is sustainable transportation relevant to realize the 17 sustainable development goals?

“The sustainable development goals (SDGs) contain several targets directly related to sustainable transport, including a road safety target under SDG 3 on Health, and a target on access to sustainable public transport in the context of SDG 11 on Human Settlements.

Sustainable transport is integral as well to the targets on energy efficiency (SDG 7), resilient infrastructure (in SDG 9) and addressing fossil fuel subsidies to advance sustainable consumption and production (in SDG 12). But because sustainable transport is a cross-cutting issue, it is in fact an important enabler for all the issues covered in the SDGs, from education and gender equality to food security and water and sanitation.“

Q3. What are some of the unique transport challenges faced by developing countries?

"Developing and transitioning countries face unique challenges in the implementation of sustainable transport, as many are undergoing rapid urbanization and rapid motorization at the same time.

The world’s poorest lack the transport they need to access jobs, markets, and health and education services, and the transport solutions that do exist in developing countries often carry significant costs for environmental and human health. Special consideration and support must be provided to these countries, in the form of capacity building, financing and other resources."

Q4. Who are the major actors in the development of sustainable transportation methods and how can they mobilize action for sustainable initiatives?

A successful sustainable transport agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. Inclusive partnerships—built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre—are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.

Q5. What will the future look like when sustainable transportation has been fully realized? What actions are needed to make this happen?

"Innovation defined broadly will unleash the full potential of sustainable transport. Innovation must include many elements: technology innovation (including both energy efficient equipment and alternative fuels); network innovation (including efficiently managed supply chains and infrastructure as well as the emerging development of ride and vehicle-sharing); and funding innovation (including both public and private investments in R&D and demonstration projects)."

The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport works with Governments, transport providers, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to promote sustainable transport systems and their integration into development strategies and policies, including in climate action.