Advancing Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport through the GEF, an advisory document

GEF, being a major multilateral agency and being an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC, has a critical role to play in promoting interventions aimed at reducing GHG emissions. In this context STAP initiated a study to provide information and guidance on options for advancing sustainable low-carbon transport during GEF-5. The report was prepared by Holger Dalkmann (TRL) and Cornie Huizenga (SLoCaT). Several of the members of Bridging the Gap and SLoCaT provided inputs and comments.

This report reviewed GEF support to transportation sector over the years and the concept of sustainable lowcarbon transport, and aimed at providing strategic advice on the options for GEF to “Promote energy efficient, low-carbon transport and urban systems”. Mitigation decisions in transport sector are complex and characterized by some peculiarities which include; large and long term investment, requiring major infrastructural changes, dependence on a single fuel source, involvement of a large number of stakeholders, potential for large cobenefits and non-GHG factors playing a major role. Further, transportation sector is unique compared to other energy consuming sectors by its predominant reliance on a single fossil fuel namely petroleum and the immediate alternative of biofuel being a very controversial option, with questionable net GHG reduction potential as well as multiple environmental risks such as loss of biodiversity, land degradation and conflict with food production.

This report defines “Sustainable low-carbon transport” as a strategy to provide economically viable infrastructure and operation that offers safe and secure access for both persons and goods whilst reducing short and long term negative impact on the local and global environment. This is in conformity with the views of IPCC (2007) according to which transportation planning and policy has a direct linkage to sustainable development, which includes reducing oil imports, improvement of air quality, reducing traffic congestion and improving travelling facilities. Such a policy can have important synergies with reducing GHG emissions. STAP report makes the following suggestions for GEF-5 to enable promotion of energy efficient, low-carbon transport and urban system.

1. So far GEF support to transport sector has almost exclusively focused on passenger transport, but to ensure the overall sustainability of urban land transport systems it is important that GEF support also extends to freight and logistics. GEF has a particular important global role to support innovative/with less on the ground experience areas (i.e., freight logistics) and building a knowledge base and lessons on lowcarbon transport and harmonization of existing transport GHG assessment methodologies.

2. To realize the transformational impact during GEF 5, it is aiming for the engagement of the private sector which needs to be substantially enhanced.

3. The integration of co-benefits should not only include the acknowledgement of co-benefits but also a quantification of such co-benefits.

4. GEF has a particular role in increasing the comprehensiveness, quality and effectiveness of national reporting under the UNFCCC, particularly to improve transport data availability, access and quality.

5. GEF support for capacity development should be comprehensive and in addition to training activities, include adjustment of institutional mandates, budgeting procedures, development of tools and instruments, data gathering and management, development of institutional coordination mechanisms, as well as awareness on financing structures and sources.