With the eyes of the world on Paris for the COP21 Climate Conference, the rail industry has arrived at the event as part of the “Train to Paris” campaign promoting the contribution of the sector to the issue of climate change. On 28 November several trains arrived in the French capital from across Asia and Europe, with some trains originating from as far away as Mongolia, Russia & China. Coordinated by the International Union of Railways (UIC) this initiative is to publicly demonstrate that rail transport is a solution for a sustainable and carbon free mobility. On arrival the delegation, handed over the “Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge” signed by 66 railways as an initial contribution to the COP21 negotiation process. So what is rail’s role in helping fight climate change?
The government and the public are becoming increasingly aware that a shift towards sustainable transport is an essential part of achieving the internationally agreed goal of limiting climate change to a rise in average global temperature of no more than 2 degrees Celsius. The “Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge” at COP 21 presents the rail sector with an important opportunity, to further highlight rail as an energy efficient transport mode and also to demonstrate how investing in rail and increasing rail market share are an essential part of the solution to climate change.
The Pledge will represent a practical step of the Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge and show the real commitment of railway companies towards the climate targets. All technical aspects related to the effectiveness and feasibility of the Challenge have been investigated in the document “Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge – Technical Report” that can be downloaded at www.uic.org/low-carbon-rail-challenge
The rail sector is the most emissions efficient transport mode, but as a major transport mode we acknowledge our responsibility and that further improvement is needed. This pledge sets out ambitious but achievable goals for the sectors contribution towards the solution to climate change.
Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge
As a member of the worldwide community of railway operators and infrastructure managers, I commit to take a leading role in the actions to prevent climate change, by reducing my company’s carbon footprint and supporting a shift towards a more sustainable balance of transport modes.
In order to achieve this, I pledge to:
- Reduce my company’s specific energy consumption and CO2 emission, and through this contribute to the “UIC Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge” and its global 2030/2050 targets, presented in 2014 at the UN Climate Summit;
- Stimulate modal shift to rail in national and international markets, by working in partnership with key stakeholders;
- Actively communicate climate friendly initiatives undertaken by my company during the year 2016 and beyond, in order to raise awareness, acceptance and recognition of the role of sustainable transport as a part of the solution to climate change;
- Report data on my company’s specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions to UIC on a regular basis, in order to promote and demonstrate the continuous improvement of railway sector at international level.
This campaign, backed by UNFCCC and UNEP, is personally supported by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who delivered a video message to the worldwide railway community, saying that: “I commend the organisers of the Train to Paris project for bringing government representatives, and business and civil society leaders to Paris using sustainable, low carbon rail transport. We have come across Asia and Europe for one common purpose: to forge a meaningful, durable agreement to limit climate change and strengthen resilience to this impact.”
Via Rail Canada, was amongst the 65 members of the International Union of Railways (UIC), in Paris and a pledge made by Via Rail's President and CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano includes a focus on reducing Via Rail's specific energy consumption and CO2 emission, to stimulate a modal shift to rail in national and international markets, by working in partnership with key stakeholders, to actively communicate Via Rail's climate-friendly initiatives to raise awareness, acceptance and recognition of the role of sustainable transport as part of the solution to climate change and to report data on Via Rail's specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions to UIC on a regular basis.
This “Train to Paris” campaign is part of long term cooperation strategy between UIC and the United Nations and its specialist bodies. This cooperation is part of UIC’s commitment and work within the UN High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport and other bodies dealing with sustainable development. Main highlights and main messages from the several speakers are available on the Train to Paris website: www.traintoparis.org
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