The UIC Low Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge

Through rail sector and transport authority partnerships, substantial reduction in transport GHG emissions achieved through improved rail sector efficiency, decarbonization of rail sector energy consumption and modal shift to rail

High-Impact Area: Transportation

Problem Statement: Transport sector GHG emissions account for about 23% of total emissions, and are growing faster than any other sector. The decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth is vital, so that the impact of climate change can be mitigated whilst achieving further development. 

Objective: Reduction in transport GHG emissions through;

  • technical development and improved management leading to greater efficiency,
  • decarbonization of energy consumption (reducing dependence on fossil fuels and improving energy security),
  • better use of existing rail assets (infrastructure & rolling stock),
  • investment to develop new rail networks  
  • benchmarking and reporting to drive improved performance & better inform transport policy.  

Improved access to sustainable passenger and freight transport will benefit both the travelling public and businesses, providing local, regional, national and international transport solutions as an engine for growth. 

Going Forward: The rail sector has a key role to play in the solution to climate change. The sector is ready to take action, however its full potential can only be realized by working in partnership with National Governments, the private sector, development banks and NGOS working on sustainable transport. IUC will be consulting on this proposal, to build momentum with our member rail companies and also to secure buy-in from transport authorities.

  • 21-23 May International Transport Forum: draft proposal presented for consultation with national governments
  • 6 June: concept submitted for final consultation and approval by UIC members with statement of support from UN & national governments
  • 27 June: formal adoption at the UIC general assembly with supporting message from UN bodies & national governments
  • July/August: final technical development
  • September– 2015 and onwards: UIC work with members and national governments to achieve improved efficiency supported by annual reporting of sector performance.


  • Leadership Group:  Jean-Pierre Loubinoux – International Union of Railways (UIC) Director General; Nick Craven – International Union of Railways (UIC) Head of Sustainable Development;
  • UIC Members: 240 UIC member railway companies
  • Business Partners: UNIFE-The Association of the European Rail Industry and Alstom

UN focal point for Summit

International Union of Railways (UIC), Nick Craven

For more information on International Union of Railways and its initiative to reduce transport GHG emissions, please see: