As the official representative of the global railway sector to the United Nations, the International Union of Railways (UIC) organized an official side event at the UN Conference of Parties (COP17) on Climate Change on 30 November 2011. The side event, entitled, “Are roads the only option? Public transport in emerging economies”, was held in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Institution for Transport Policy Studies (ITPS) based in Japan.
The event presented the issue of how to make public transport (railways, metro, bus) a genuine low-carbon development option in the developing world, both for passenger and freight transport. UIC, represented by Alexander Veitch, Head of the Sustainable Development Unit, highlighted case studies from emerging economies such as Turkey, Morocco, Ethiopia, or Vietnam, where rail projects are being developed as a low-carbon solution to transport problems. Contributors from UNEP and ITPS looked more broadly at ways in which reductions in CO2 emissions from the transport sector can be made, by using a combination of reducing the need to travel, through modal shift, and through the use of more energy-efficient technologies.