Hundreds of passengers travel to Copenhagen climate conference on CO2-free Climate Express train
Paris/Copenhagen, 6 December 2009 - More than 400 climate change negotiators, business leaders, environmental activists and journalists boarded the CO2-free Climate Express train on 5 December to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.
They were hosted by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the initiator of this special train, along with Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and James P. Leape, Director General of WWF. The passengers were joined by the British Council's Young Climate Champions from all five continents on their trip to the Copenhagen conference, which kicks off on 7 December.
The aim of the journey was to support and encourage decision-makers to deliver a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the first international effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Its purpose was also to send out the message that the next-generation climate agreement and its supporting policies and procedures need to address the transport sector's growing emissions
Also boarding the Climate Express train was the Climate Expert Team, which started the symbolic train journey 3 weeks ago in Kyoto - the birthplace of the current Climate Change Protocol. The journey took them among others along the Trans-Siberian route, organised by Russian Railways (RZD), with Copenhagen as their final destination. The Team brought a special message from the rail community: a global position paper entitled "Keeping Climate Change Solutions on Track: The Role of Rail".
During their journey to Copenhagen via Cologne and Hamburg, the passengers took part in a wide range of activities on the train, including high level discussions aiming to raise awareness of the transport sector's influence on climate change.
Achim Steiner, James Leape and Pr. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also took part in a panel discussion on 'Updating Climate Science: What is at stake?'.
On board the train, the workshops and round-table discussions on the various aspects of sustainable mobility and how it can be addressed in a post-2012 agreement were a key opportunity for passengers on board to discuss the crucial climate talks ahead.
"We've had a lot of very hopeful signals in the past week or so," UNEP´s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, told the passengers during the closing on-board debate.
"The number of world leaders now planning to attend the climate talks is one such signal, but the responsibility to hold the leaders to account and to continue to apply intense pressure sits with civil society," Mr Steiner said.
UNEP partnered with the International Union of Railways, WWF and the British Council to plan the Climate Express journey, which featured a novel on-board climate change conference as the electric train made its ways to the COP host city via Germany.
Speaking on board, the head of WWF, Jim Leape, said a new climate change deal was possible.
"I think Copenhagen presents the best political opportunity we've ever had to address the most important issue of our generation," Mr Leape said.
"A new deal is in our grasp but we've got to make sure Heads of Government hear the demand for action from their constituents," he said.
The debates and presentations during the 13-hour journey ranged from the latest climate science to the UN REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programme and the first test flight for a solar-powered aircraft, which took place this week.
The journey was a totally CO2-free journey, as the power drawn for the locomotive came entirely from renewable sources of energy. If the same group of people flew to Copenhagen, they would have produce d 115kg of CO2 per person.
The Climate Express was welcomed upon arrival in Copenhagen by the new Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Lykke Friis, Søren Eriksen, CEO of the Danish Railways (DSB), and Kim Carstensen, Leader of WWF International's Global Climate Initiative.