Active Transport Foreshadowed as Priority for COP27

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Active transport appears set to gain greater attention at the next instalment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27.

After being a last-minute inclusion for COP26, the COP27 Presidency of Egypt has identified transport as an issue of particular importance for the forum on the 6th to 18th November 2022, citing active transport as an important solution for developing nations.

The agenda includes an entire afternoon on 17th November 2022 to discuss and make commitments to achieve equitable, healthy, green and resilient transport in Africa and the rest of the developing world.

“The focus of COP27 is on implementation; now is the time for action. We hope to see stakeholders come together and demonstrate genuine commitment to active mobility and electrification of buses across the world, and particularly for the Global South,” Egypt’s deputy director of the Department of Climate, Environment and Sustainable Development, Ayman Tharwat Amin, said.

In preparation for transport discussions at COP27, the COP27 Presidency convened a meeting of almost 100 stakeholders, including governments, multilateral development banks, UN agencies, private sector, civil society and NGOs on 7th September to strengthen consensus on what specific COP27 transport-related outcomes could be achieved to support low-and middle-income countries, with a focus on Africa.

The Stichting Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport’s secretary general, Maruxa Cardama, said it was inspiring to see “such a wide range of stakeholders come together to discuss how COP27 can pave the way for accelerating action, with Africa and the Global South in the lead”.

Critical Need for Transport Focus

A statement from the COP27 Presidency said a focus on transport emissions is more critical than ever before.

“Transport accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is the fastest growing source of emissions,” it said.

“The combination of public transport based on clean technologies and walking and cycling hold the key to many of the solutions needed to achieve our goals through a just transition. Still, these are under-prioritised aspects of the climate agenda, from a policy and funding perspective.

“All over the world, decades of car-centric cities and transport planning have had negative impacts on cities – from rocketing emissions, poor air quality and dangerous roads, to plans and policies that leave the poorest behind.

“While the need to transform transport systems is universal, there is urgency in focusing on the Global South, where most of the vehicle growth is underway and projected to continue, and where the majority of urban dwellers use public or paratransit services and walk or cycle despite the lack of infrastructure for safe active mobility.”

It says many cities in the ‘global south’ are already planning low-carbon public transport options, including electric buses.

“It is a matter of urgency to ensure that these investments scale up the use of clean technologies to not lock them into non-sustainable pathways,” according to the presidency.

“It is equally important to ensure that these public transport systems are integrated with active mobility interventions for safe walking and cycling.”

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