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Sustainable transport offers a low-carbon solution for the future


02 Dec 2011


Climate & Environment

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) took part in the UN climate change conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa (28 November – 9 December 2011).  Although the science of global warming is clear and the role that sustainable low-carbon transport can play in addressing climate change is well known, little progress appears to have been made in terms of achieving a binding agreement in the UN climate talks.

Transport is a major emitting sector accounting for around 23 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions on a global level. Global demand for transport appears unlikely to decrease in the foreseeable future and rapid motorisation, especially in developing countries, will see fuel demand grow by 40 percent by 2035.

In 2009, UITP launched its PTx2 strategy aimed at doubling the public transport market share by 2025, as a wake-up call to raise awareness of the need to put public transport high on the agenda as a solution to climate change.

At a COP17 side event entitled ‘Bridging the Gap between transport and climate policy: time to tackle the transport sector’, UITP put forward the argument that, if mean global temperatures are to be stabilised at the levels required to avoid the worst aspects of climate change, we need strong modal shift ambitions away from cars and towards sustainable modes of transport; the science is telling us that this works.

According to a study carried out by UITP and the International Energy Agency (IEA): 

- on average, public transport consumes 3.4 times less energy per passenger-kilometre than cars. This ratio is even more favourable during peak hours;

- in cities where the modal share of public transport, walking and cycling is high, each citizen saves 500 to 600 litres of petrol per year.

Making the case for sustainable low-carbon transport at COP17 is crucially important: doubling the market share of sustainable transport modes presents us with an opportunity not only to address climate change, but also to revitalise and develop economies, generate jobs and enhance everyone’s quality of life.

Copies of UITP's detailed position paper entitled ‘Towards low/zero-carbon urban mobility in Europe’ ( were also distributed at COP17. This document presents the pathway to achieving low-carbon mobility; however, if this is to be achieved on a global scale, more incentives are needed to help countries, especially those in the developing world, develop their infrastructure.


Note to Editors

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international network of 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 of public transport and sustainable mobility, and the promoter of innovations in the sector. Visit our website


Sarah D'Angelo | Press Junior Manager | +32 2 663 66 39 |



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