Maruxa Cardama
Maruxa Cardama, SLOCAT Secretary General, talks during talk on green transport at COP28 Image Credit: Screen grab

Dubai: Paving the road to a cleaner, better future, 60 global pledges to double green transport by 2030 were made at COP28 on Wednesday.

The global sustainable land transport community attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Expo City Dubai also issued a call to action to double the share of energy-efficient and fossil-free forms of land transport by 2030 to make transportation greener and more eco-friendly.

Countries such as Chile and Columbia and 60 multistakeholder organisations endorsed it.

The sustainable land transport community also agreed to annually observe the first-ever World Sustainable Transport Day that was launched by the UN General Assembly on November 26, 2024.

The initiatives were led primarily by the SLOCAT Partnership, one of the key delivery partners of the COP28 Presidency for the Multilevel Action Day dedicated to transport at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai.

The SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport promotes the integration of sustainable transport in global policies on sustainable development and climate change and leveraging action to support the implementation of global policies.

SLOCAT joined hands with REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century) a think tank and a multistakeholder governance group that is focused on renewable energy policy for the new green transport initiatives.

Other international bodies that joined the alliance include the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), the International Association of Railways (UIC), the International Union of Railways (UITP) and World Resources Institute (WRI) for the new initiatives.

Why it matters

The transport sector is responsible for approximately one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 22 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

“Transport is the fastest growing energy consuming sector, so fast that actually in 2021, it consumed one-third of the world’s total energy,” said Maruxa Cardama, SLOCAT Secretary General. A staggering 96 per cent of this was sourced from fossil fuels, she said. This makes the sector one of the most difficult to decarbonise.

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“From electric and solar-powered vehicles to renewable aviation fuel sources, to massive investments in green public transportation systems, to measures like carbon pricing and subsidies for low-carbon fuels, we can steer our societies towards a cleaner and more sustainable path for people and the planet,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on the first World Sustainable Transport Day.

Even individual decisions to shift from cars to public transportation can reduce up to 2.2 tons of carbon emissions annually per person.

Why COP28 is fundamental

Cardama said COP28 is fundamental for the transport sector for many reasons including the need for providing renewable energy opportunities and aid from the Loss and Damage Fund.

“We were delighted to see COP28 start with 118 countries pledging to triple renewable energies by 2030,” she said.

“Now the next step is to look at who needs to consume that renewable energy, and certainly the transport sector is one of the primary clients. We were also delighted to have the news about the Loss and Damage fund. Now we need a chapter about transport in that particular work, because the amount of billions that are lost annually in the damage of transport infrastructures is huge. In low- and middle-income countries it is $8billion annually … But if you look at the monetary impacts of that damage on transport systems, the figures go up to $180 billion in low- and middle-income countries.”

Transport-energy ministerial

The COP28 Presidency, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the International Transport Forum, and the International Energy Agency also came together to organise the first-ever transport-energy ministerial at a COP.

Working closely with key delivery partners, including the SLOCAT Partnership, the Air Transport Action Group and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions team, the COP28 Presidency spotlighted key solutions to decarbonise the transport sector.

“The focus on sustainability in transportation is a significant step toward creating a healthier planet. As we look forward to the first World Sustainable Transport Day, it’s a collective effort to bring positive changes to how we travel, marking an important moment in our shared journey toward a more sustainable future,” the UAE’s COP28 Presidency stated.

Did you know?

Globally, the average annual carbon footprint per individual is 5.9 tons.

Living car-free can reduce your annual carbon footprint by up to 3.6 tons.

Switching from a regular vehicle to an electric vehicle (EV) can reduce your carbon footprint by an average of 2 tonnes per year.