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Cancún, COP16 – Public transport makes the planet breathe


10 Dec 2010


Climate & Environment

At the closing of the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16), today in Cancún the International Association of Public Transport stresses the positive impact of public transport on climate change and green economy, and highlights therefore the urgent need to include transport, and more specifically urban transport, in climate policy.

Already responsible for 23% of energy-related CO2 emissions globally and for 13% of all GHG emission according to the International Energy Agency (2008), transport needs to be tackled if any significant reductions are to be made by 2050. Between 1990 and 2006 CO2 emissions from the transport sector increased by 28% and they are expected to rise by 120% from 2000 to 2050 (ITF/OECD).

The European Union has managed to stabilise or reduce emissions in some sectors (mainly the industry, covered in the EU Emission Trading System) but transport emissions increased. If transport emissions had followed the same reduction trend as in society as a whole, total EU-27 GHG during the period 1990–2006 would have fallen by 12.6% instead of +7.7% according to the European Environment Agency and Transport Research Laboratory.

With the increasing growth of urban populations (70% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050), urban mobility needs to be seriously addressed. The UITP Mobility in Cities Database reveals that in medium and large size cities in developed economies the average carbon footprint of urban mobility is 1,24 ton/capita/year. In Europe, it is just below one ton.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has developed a strategy calling on governments, cities and local authorities, investors, operators and the industry for a strong commitment to doubling the public transport market share by 2025 both in the developed and developing world.

“Public Transport is certainly part of the solution to climate change, and it can fill the gap for the short and medium term”, says Hans Rat, Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). “Citizens living in cities with a high share of public transport, cycling and walking (more than 55%) average 2.4 tonnes less CO2 per capita per year than citizens who live in cities where mobility is dominated by private motorised transport (75% and above)”.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) took this message to UN COP15 within the framework of “Bridging the Gap”, an initiative to link transport and climate change policy and present specific recommendations for how the transport sector could be better integrated into a climate agreement. The initiative proposes bringing expert support to the broader framework required to enable the transport sector to play an integral role in a low carbon future, both in developed and developing countries, post 2012.


Read the UITP Media backgrounder on Public Transport and CO2 emissions



Notes to Editors

UITP (International Association of Public Transport) is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. It is a platform for worldwide cooperation, business development and the sharing of know-how between its 3,400 members from 92 countries. UITP is the global advocate for public transport and sustainable mobility, and the promoter of innovations in the sector. For more information, please visit


UITP Press contact: Sarah D'Angelo | Press Junior Manager

Direct phone: +32 (0)2 6636639 | Fax: +32 (0)2 6601072 |


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