Opening Perspectives

Still early in COP 20, we are waiting for the race to accelerate. To change the current trajectory of transport emissions, we must ask ourselves what we can expect from UNFCCC process, and how it responds to developments on sustainable transport outside of the process. As the race picks up, we note early progress at national levels from Peru, Indonesia and Mexico, and we set our sights on the evolving relationship of INDCs and NAMAs in the course of the COP. 

Peruvian Ministry Events: Focus on NAMAs and INDCs

The Peruvian Ministry of Environment hosted four side events to launch COP20 on the right path, presenting a useful example of an integrated strategy to tackle climate change, with sustainable transport policies a central part of the strategy. 

The first event was on the Peruvian Planning for Climate Change (Plan CC) project, which details potential abatement curves out to 2050.Next, Peru presented its progress towards creating a national greenhouse gas inventory. Developing responsible and realistic inventories has a direct effect on a country’s capacity to set MRV schemes, and augments its ability to obtain finance for mitigation and adaptation projects. 

The third event showcased TransPeru, a sustainable urban transport NAMA, which includes mass transit, fleet modernization, non-motorized transport, and fuel economy standards. In Peru, 37% of energy-related emissions are produced by transport, and according to Lorenzo Eguren of the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, “If Peru wants to do something about climate change, it can’t do it without tackling the transport sector.” 

The final event focused on the evolution of the UNFCCC mitigation architecture from a NAMA-focused strategy to an INDC-focused strategy.  Peru elaborated upon the approach, methodology and preliminary results, thus creating a solid roadmap for a INDCs processes in developing countries.  Afterward, Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Secretary General, and Manuel Pulgar, COP20 President, reflected on the day’s lessons.  Mr. Pulgar called the INDC approach realistic, responsible and inclusive, and Ms. Figueres highlighted transport as a key sector in helping to further define INDCs. 

Transportation Policy toward Mitigation (Indonesia)

Indonesia’s National Action Plan for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissionssets an ambitious target to reduce GHG emissions 26% below BAU level by 2020 with unilateral actions, and up to 41% below BAU with international support. The Indonesian government is reducing fuel subsidies to save $43 billion in the next four years and shift savings to needed transport infrastructure investments. 

This COP 20side event detailed Indonesia’s efforts to achieve these ambitious targets through the NAMA Sustainable Urban Transport Initiative (SUTRI). Pilot projects are planned for seven Indonesian cities with the goal of expanding the NAMA project pipeline, attracting additional investments, better assessing impacts through MRV, and eventually scaling up mitigation projects in cities around the country. The mitigation impact of the NAMA projects is estimated at 0.7 to 1.3 MtCO2e per year by 2030. 

The UNFCCC process provides essential support to the NAMASUTRI project, but it must provide further additional support to encourage ambitious pledges in Indonesia and other developing countries, and to ensure that Indonesia meets its 41% target.

Update NAMA Registry

A workshop on 4 December gave an overview of the NAMA process at UNFCCC which has been developed a NAMA Registry, which was formally launched in March 2014.  The Registry functions similarly to a dating website, where potential recipients request support for NAMAs and potential donors provide support.  The UNFCCC currently reports 71 recipient entries (including six in the transport sector) and 14 support entries in the NAMA Registry, with eight matches to date.

While NAMA registration is increasing, more action is required from the UNFCCC to increase matches among recipient and donor Parties. Though the NAMA Registry was adopted at COP 18 Doha, currently only two transport projects are in implementation. NAMAs have not achieved transformational change due to constrained funding, limited MRV capacities, and ad hoc placement within the COP structure.GEF has allocated $17.8 million to NAMAs to date, in hopes that this framework will help to inform INDCs.

Mitigation Potential of Urban Transport: Priorities for NAMAs and INDCs

IEA illustrated that the transport sector has a crucial role in achieving a 2-degree C scenario (instead of a 4- or 6-degree C scenario), and can save trillions of dollars in reduced fuel costs.  IEA stressed a number of ‘improve’ strategies to meet a 2-degree C target, stating that fuel economy incentives can generate considerable reductions, and advanced biofuels have even greater mitigation potential in the transport sector.

ITF gave a sneak preview of its 2015 urban transport model, contrasting scenarios in Chinese, Indian, and Latin American cities based on land use, fuel prices, road and transport policies.  ITF stressed the urgency of mitigation in developing cities, as urban transport policies have significant influence on emissions, pollution and other impacts, and stated that its modeling efforts can contribute to the development of NAMAs and INDCs. 

ITDP introduced its new report (with UC Davis) on a transport “global high shift scenario.”  According to the study, a global expansion of public transport, walking and cycling in cities could save more than USD$100 trillion in public and private spending, and reduce 1,700 Mt of CO2 annually by 2050, a 40 percent reduction. Equity is a key focus of the study, as a high-shift scenario would triple the mobility of the poorest 20%.

Alejandro Nieto, Mexican Vice Minister of Urban Development and Housing, stressed the importance of low carbon transport policies. Mexico has committed to reduce its GHGs 50% by 2050, but faces a lack of institutional capacity. The UNFCCC must thus address the need for detailed modeling at national levels, and in turn provide necessary funding to translate hindsight-focused national inventories into forward-looking INDCs.

SLoCaT commented on the presentation.  First, ‘improve’ strategies have fewer sustainable development benefits (e.g. road safety, congestion) than ‘avoid’ and ‘shift’ strategies; and climate change mitigation strategies must also score well on sustainable development criteria.  Second, many global models to assess the mitigation potential of transport are externally driven and are mostly not based on nationally-owned data; thus these carry the risk that based on this the full mitigation potential of national transport sectors might not be reflected in the INDCs to be submitted next year.  Finally, moving from global to nationally-owned models will require additional resources, and the UNFCCC has a responsibility to help fill this gap.

Closing Thoughts

We applaud the involvement of high-level UNFCCC leadership in improving the NAMA Registry and the efforts to increase emphasis on INDCs. The INDCs could potentially be an important vehicle to translate growing efforts in non-Annex 1 countries on sustainable transport into policy statements. A key challenge for the transport sector is that it is at present still unclear whether countries will provide sectoral breakdowns in their INDCs, and if such sectoral breakdowns are provided whether this is based on a bottom-up projection of mitigation potential.  It is in the interest of all Parties under the UNFCCC that countries receive all assistance required to submit realistic but ambitious INDCs, which provide details on the contribution of the transport sector. The contribution of transport to GHG emissions is too large to be left to chance in the INDCs if we are truly serious about realizing the Two Degree Scenario (2DS).

Upcoming Transport Events at COP 20

 Please visit the Transport Day website for a full listing of COP 20 transport events.

For downloadable version of this update, please click here.