A two-day trip and around 300 euros: That’s what it means if you don’t want to board a flight from Berlin to the UN’s main climate conference in Glasgow. The flight, on the other hand, takes a few hours and costs a fraction.
Nevertheless, many traveled by land to Glasgow over the weekend. However, a storm on Sunday disrupted train traffic between London and Glasgow, initially leaving several passengers stranded on the track.
COP26 is about this: It shows how urgent the change of traffic and movement is. The transport sector plays a key role in the fight against the ever-increasing CO2 emissions. It accounts for about a quarter of the emissions from the air when fossil fuels are burned, and about 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Climate Agreement, which the delegates want to agree on in the next two weeks, is about the transport sector. It is part of the National Climate Plans that all countries must draw up for the Paris Agreement (NDCs, Nationally Determined Contributions).
At COP, many states, regions and companies are expected to pledge to phase out the production of internal combustion engines – and to further protect the climate in road transport. For this purpose, the UK Presidency dedicates a separate day to transport: Wednesday 10 November.
So far, two announcements have been made for road traffic. The first objective is to ensure that only completely unpolluted cars and vans are registered in the largest markets by 2035. All other markets will follow by 2040.
- The EU must sign the declaration, as well as the individual member states of Spain, Italy and France.
- Egypt has already indicated it will sign – which may be related to the fact that it could host next year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).
- The United States and China have not yet acknowledged themselves, nor have Germany.
The second proclamation already prepared is aimed at medium and heavy commercial vehicles. Their emissions will be reduced to zero in the largest markets by 2040, and this will apply worldwide by 2050.
Among others, Chile, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Canada, Norway, Austria and Sweden – as well as Scania, Volvo Trucks and BYD – are expected to sign. How successful the two declarations will be depends on how many signatories can be found in the end.
In addition, other groups will advertise for additional support on COP Transport Day. Among other things, the EV100 initiative announces that its members will fully switch to e-mobility by 2030. The initiative so far has 113 members from a variety of industries, including vaccine manufacturer Astra Geneca, management consulting firm Deloitte and the Siemens team.
In July the EU Commission took part in discussions on the claim formulated in its Fit for 55 package. For example, he suggested that from 2035 all EU countries should stop selling new vehicles with internal combustion engines, significantly speed up the charging station infrastructure, and introduce the kerosene tax.
Negotiations between the Commission and the member states are just beginning. But the announcement by the EU Commission could certainly provide a headwind. “The EU has an important lever at hand,” says Mara de Patter, the Regular Travel for Youth (YfST) organization, which organizes the first COP campaign by train.
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The campaign began with Sail to COP in 2019 – by the time the climate summit was transferred to Madrid, members of the organization were already sailing to Chile. This year, a joint train with about 500 participants will travel to Glasgow – from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, Brussels and London via Glasgow.
Dutch rail infrastructure operator ProRail and rail company Eurostar also support the campaign. He wants to improve the dialogue between the railway sector, activists and politics.
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D. Patter explains that in addition to the expansion of the railways, there is also the acquisition of ground air traffic. “We hope the EU will use its influence to impose tariffs on international aviation,” he said. This should be taken very seriously in the COP, especially since there is no air traffic as part of the Paris Agreement. It is limited to road transport – and no further regulation of shipping is planned in the wake of the UN climate talks.
Additional control is needed for air and sea traffic
Negotiations are underway with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for aviation and shipping. But activists want to include businesses in the UN climate talks. “Both sectors have huge emissions and will continue to grow in the coming years. Stronger regulation is needed,” said De Patter.
However, some efforts are also planned for COP. The Clydebank Declaration is set to launch on November 10: It calls on governments to set up private corridors on shipping routes focused on decarbonization. Its purpose is to encourage investment in sustainable fuels. Countries, including the United States, have said they will take part.
In aviation, the International Air Climate Ambition Alliance was formed on the same day: a group of countries that want to make their air traffic climate-neutral as soon as possible. At the COP, Bloomberg announced in advance that it was going to announce a reduction in emissions from aviation. “ICAO projects in particular are not entirely adequate in view of the climate crisis. We hope the COP will show more ambition,” De Patter said.
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