January 01, 2010

Climate Express takes rail message to COP15

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THE RAILWAY industry joined forces with climate change negotiators and environmental groups on December 5 in a symbolic train journey to highlight the role rail can play in reducing carbon emissions ahead of the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

The Climate Express from Brussels to Copenhagen was organised by the International Union of Railways in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund.

This was the final leg of a journey that had begun in the Japanese city of Kyoto, birthplace of the previous UN Climate Change Protocol, three weeks earlier when a team of environmental experts, journalists and representatives of non-governmental organisations set off to cross Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The group carried with them a Global Rail Position Paper, which is based on data gathered by national railways and advocates a significant modal shift from road and air to rail as a crucial step in the transition to low-carbon mobility. They also witnessed the effects of climate change on Russia and its people as they crossed the country.

Among the 450 passengers onboard the Climate Express were Mr Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UNEP director general Mr Achim Steiner, as well as railway executives, and senior representatives of the UIC and rail industry associations.

A key message to COP15 negotiators was to consider the issue of transport emissions carefully in their discussions, and that rail can be part of a multimodal solution to reducing the level of CO2 generated by transport activities.

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