United Nations Secretary General's Climate Summit


Transport Commitments made at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit and emerging initiatives offer opportunity for Transformative Change of the transport sector

The upcoming 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), otherwise known as Paris2015 or COP21, provides a global stage to highlight the importance of climate action by all sectors – with climate actions on transport central among these. To this end the efforts will build on the tremendous momentum and specific transport announcements delivered on 23 September 2014 at the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon hosted Climate Summit in New York which mobilized international action on climate change.

The actions on transport presented at the Climate summit in particular can result in scaling up public transport and make it the number one choice for travel; greater use of more efficient rail and public transport; accelerated introduction of urban electric transport; more fuel efficient passenger vehicles; and action plans on green freight. Collectively they can reduce the carbon footprint of at least half of all the passenger and freight trips made by 2025. These actions, together with possible new and additional commitments being developed on cycling, zero emission vehicles, water borne transport, urban mobility planning and greener roads will be key in implementing ambitious action on climate change. Evidence shows that actions such as these can result in savings of $70 trillion by 2050 as less money would need to be invested in vehicles, fuel and transport infrastructure reflecting the strong economic case for climate action.

Reference Document: Transport Commitments Flyer (pdf)

The International Union of Railways (UIC)- Low-Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge

This initiative will reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable transportation by combining improvements in rail sector energy efficiency with an expansion of rail’s share of transport activity. The initiative has set targets based on the International Energy Agency‘s analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommended two-degree scenario. 

  • 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from train operations by 2030, and 75% reduction by 2050 (specific average CO2 relative to a 1990 baseline – i.e. reduction of emissions per passenger/km + tonne/km)
  • 50% reduction in energy consumption from train operations by 2030, and 60% reduction by 2050 (specific final energy relative to a 1990 baseline)
  • 50% increase in rail’s share of passenger transportation by 2030 and doubling by 2050 (2010 baseline)
  • Rail freight activity equal to that of road freight by 2030, and exceeding road freight volumes 50% by 2050

Focal point: Nick Craven, International Union of Railways (UIC), Craven@uic.org

– UIC Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge-Action Plan

– UIC Press Release

– Interview with Jean Pierre Loubinoux, Director General, International Union of Railway

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP)Declaration on Climate Leadership

Cities will face increasing traffic gridlock and pollution levels with projected increases in private motor vehicles. Through this initiative, UITP members are making a voluntary commitment to reduce carbon emissions and strengthen climate resilience within their cities and regions. The association’s goal is to double the market share of public transport use around the world by 2025 – a massive shift to public transport which would prevent the emission of half a billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the year 2025. The specific commitments made by UITP are:

  • UITP confirms public transport’s leadership in climate action and brings around 350 commitments and actions from 110 public transport undertakings.
  • Actions aimed at giving a greater role to public transport in mobility help decrease the regions carbon footprint. For example every additional tonne due to more public transport in New York and Rio, delivers a reduction of up to 7 tonnes of wider CO2.
  • Actions will also help organisations meet their emissions reduction targets, such as London’s public transport stretch target to cut emissions of CO2 per passenger km by 40% by 2025 and Montreal’s GHG emissions intensity (g CO2e/passenger-km) reduction targets by 20% by 2020
  •  These actions will also support UITP’s goal to double the market share of public transport by 2025, which would prevent half a billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2025.

Focal point: Philip Turner, International Association of Public transport, Philip.turner@uitp.org

– International Association of Public Transport

– UITP Press Release Statement

– UITP Climate Action and Public Transport: Analysis of Planned Actions

– Interview with Gunnar Heipp, Director of Strategy and Planning, International Association of Public Transport

The Urban Electric Mobility Vehicles Initiative (UEMI)

This initiative aims to reduce dependency on vehicles using conventional sources of fuel.

The specific commitments under UEMI are:

  • Increase the market share of electric vehicles in cities to at least 30%, of all new vehicles (incl. cars and motorized 2-3 wheelers) sold on annual basis by 2030 while simultaneously developing the enabling infrastructure for their effective use;
  • Through increased use of electric mobility for passenger transport (both private and public) as well as freight transport combined with measures to reduce the need for individualized motorized transport and increased use of public and non-motorized transport achieve a 30% reduction of CO2 emissions in urban areas by 2030.

Focal point: Andre Dzikus, United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat), Andre.dzikus@unhabitat.org

– Urban Electric Mobility Initiative Action Plan

– Interview with Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat

Vehicle Fuel Efficiency AcceleratorWe have the technology to double fuel economy and reduce fuel waste. Now we need the Policy

  • Achieving the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) target, of doubling by 2030 the efficiency of all new vehicles and by 2050 the complete global vehicle fleet, would save over 1 Gt of CO2 a year by 2025 and over 2 Gt/yr by 2050, and results in savings in annual oil import bills alone worth over USD 300 billion in 2025 and USD 600 billion in 2050.
  • Countries working with the GFEI under this accelerator are committing to develop national fuel economy policies, with support from the private sector and NGOs at national level, and globally by international finance institutions, UN agencies and donors.
  • This Accelerator has detailed plans to build support and engagement with this work up to and beyond the COP in Paris 2015. The GFEI’s ‘100 for 50by50’ campaign aims to engage 100 countries in the GFEI’s work as a practical contribution to COP21.

For more information, please see, Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform – Action Statement

Focal point: Sheila Watson, Global Fuel Economy Initiative, info@globalfueleconomy.org

– Interview with Sheila Watson, Director of Environment, FIA Foundation and Executive Secretary of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative 

Global Green Freight Action Plan – Green Freight programs as Catalysts for more Efficient and Environmentally Sustainable Goods Movement

In the global Green Freight Action Plan, committed governments and companies will expand and harmonize green freight programs that will generate reductions in black carbon and CO2 emissions from multimodal goods movement, while also enhancing fuel efficiency and energy security, fostering innovation in the global freight transportation supply chain, protecting public health and reducing near term climate change.

  • Aligning and enhancing existing green freight through knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer partnerships, and government industry exchanges that will build a bridge between policy makers, business leaders and civil society at the global level;
  • Expanding and improving green freight in interested countries; and
  • Identifying ways to incorporate black carbon, particulate matter and other air pollutant emission reduction calculations in green freight programs.

– A Global Green Freight Action Plan- Action Statement

– Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants Action Statements and Action Plans

– Interview with Sophie Punte, Executive Director, Smart Freight Centr

Emerging initiatives

Sustainable urban mobility planning to reduce GHG emissions in urban transport.

Engage 100 developing cities into Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) before 2020 to improve urban transport for both passengers and goods in order to reduce CO2 emissions through comprehensive policies.

  • Build support and capacity to implement national sustainable urban mobility policies based on SUMPs at local level in 12 to 15 developing countries.
  • Foster the development of Measuring, Reporting and Verification systems in order to register the national sustainable urban mobility as a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA).
  • 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from urban mobility by 2050 in cities that implement a SUMP.

For more information, please see, www.codatu.org

Focal point: Julien Allaire, CODATU, jallaire@codatu.or

-CODATU ‘Mobiliseyourcity’ flyer

Voluntary Commitment from World Cycling Alliance (WCA) and European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) – modal shift to cycling worldwide and doubling cycling in Europe by 2020.

  • Show the importance of cycling to achieve the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, with special attention to climate action.
  • Showcase the ambitions of cities to increase the modal share of cycling worldwide and to double cycling in Europe by 2020.
  • Mobilize support of WCA and ECF members to enable local, national and international governments and institutions to scale up action on cycling.

For more information, please see www.ecf.com

Focal point: Bernhard Ensink, European Cyclists’ Federation and World Cycling Alliance, b.ensink@ecf.com


Aviation Sector’s Climate Action Takes Off

In advance of the UN Climate Summit, ICAO and ATAG are stepping up efforts with further commitment and partnership to achieve the ultimate vision of a sustainable international aviation sector by:

Supporting the development of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation.

  • Continuing the deployment of new technology aircraft and operational improvements.
  • Accelerating the transformation of global air traffic management performance.
  • Working with partners to develop a global CO2 standard for new aircraft.
  • Working with partners to design and implement a global market-based measure for international aviation.
  • Working together to further efforts for capacity building in Member States across the world

– Aviation – Action Plan
– Aviation – Action Statement 

In Summary

On 23 September 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosted a Climate Summit in New York to mobilize action and ambition on climate change prior to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2015. The two main objectives of the Climate Summit were to catalyze ambitious action on the ground and to mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal climate agreement at the COP21 in Paris. Please click here for the program of the Summit.

Read here to find out which 11 Government Leaders spoke about transport at the Climate Summit and what they said.


UN Secretary General asked governments and leaders of business, finance, industry, and civil society, in areas for new commitments and substantial, scalable and replicable initiatives to the Summit that will help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy. The initiatives are clustered under eight action areas and transport related commitments are included in three action areas: transportation, energy and industry.


The Issue

Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase under a ‘business as usual’ scenario by nearly 50% by 2030 and more than 80% by 2050, compared with year-end 2009. This increase in emissions will be primarily caused by a projected surge in the global stock of vehicles. Already in 2009, transport contributed approximately one-quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions and was responsible for about one-fifth of energy use. Measures that reduce the demand for travel, including compact city planning combined with the large-scale expansion of public transport systems; improvements in energy-efficient transportation systems; along with the promotion of non-motorised transport, could save Governments, companies and individuals up to $70 trillion by 2050 as less money would need to be invested in vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure.

The Bridging the Gap Initiative (BtG) and the SLoCaT Partnership in prepration of the Climate Summit developed a joint paper titled “Land Transport’s Contribution to a 2°C target”. The paper provides key messages for climate change negotiators and policy makers on the potential contribution of the land transport sector to global climate change mitigation strategies. The report summarises key facts on the mitigation potential in the land transport sector for both passenger and freight, institutional and global governance perspectives and financing requirements. Read more.

Joint Action Plan Transport Action Area

Four global transport alliances, consisting of governments, transport companies and associations, other private sector players and civil society organizations, launched or advanced initiatives that aim to significantly scale-up proven low carbon transport technologies. Announced at today’s Climate Summit, these initiatives would increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, increase the efficiency of rail transport and air travel, and provide sustainable public transportation options around the world. The joint commitments of the transport initiatives are documented in a Transport Joint Action Statement. See also the joint press release on the transport initiatives.


On track for green & clean transport: High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change was jointly organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), International Union of Railways (UIC – the worldwide railway association with 240 members), Amtrak (US passenger railway company), and the Partnership for Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT). The event was supported by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), the European Rail Industry (UNIFE), the Bridging the Gap Initiative and the Canadian rail operator Via Rail. It was held in New York on 22 September 2014, on the day before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit. For detailed information on the event, please visit the event page here.


In preparation for the Climate Summit, a special two-day high-level meeting, Abu Dhabi Ascent, was held 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi Ascent, representatives of private sector and the civil society organizations announced their initiatives on the road to Climate Summit. Transport was the second largest sector announcing five out of 31 initiatives focusing on rail, public transport, bus-rapid transit, electric mobility, fuel economy and green freight.