UN climate chief urges transport sector to be proactive in seeking international agreement on climate change
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
Fri 6 June 2008 – Speaking at last week’s International Transport Forum in Leipzig, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer called on the transport sector to help shape the UN climate deal due to be agreed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. He said present political action on transport is “woefully inadequate” and waiting for new technologies was not an affordable option.
“You have a choice,” he told transport ministers, officials and industry executives. “The question is whether you as transport stakeholders are willing to proactively shape the Copenhagen deal or have your policies shaped by it.”
According to data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), greenhouse gas emissions from transport are expected to increase by 30.5% by 2010 against the 1990 baseline, the highest of all increases in sectoral emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, global emissions from transport are expected to increase by 80% by 2030 compared to current levels.
“All of the current trends in transport fly in the face of what science tells us is required,” said de Boer. “Developed countries now need to start thinking hard about what short and medium-term sectoral emission reductions they want to commit to in the transport sector, along with what interim targets they want to build in on the way.”
Last year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that global GHG emissions need to peak over the next 10 to 15 years and dramatically drop by at least 50% against 2000 levels by the middle of the century in order to stabilize global mean temperature increases of between 2-2.4 degrees C. For industrialized countries, this means that by 2020, reductions of between 25 and 40%, based on 1990 levels, would be required.
“New technologies will certainly be part of the answer,” said de Boer. “But we simply cannot afford to wait for ‘silver bullet’ solutions which may only be commercially available in the future.”
He called on transport officials to consider the extent to which international transport could be included in an emissions trading system established as part of the Copenhagen agreement. As he pointed out, emissions from international transport do not fall under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol.
“Linking the transport sector to an existing emissions trading scheme would allow for cost-effective reductions of GHG emissions across sectoral borders,” said de Boer.
He also spoke of the need to improve the quality of data on transport, saying there was currently no common set of internationally recognized indicators for measuring, reporting and verifying national and international action on mitigation of climate change in the transport sector.
“We cannot master what we cannot measure,” he said. “Developing a table of indicators for transport and climate change, as input to the UN climate change process, would be the task of the international transport experts.” He called on the industrialized nations to support developing countries in their efforts to improve their data basis.
The latest round of UN-sponsored global climate change negotiations started in Bonn, Germany on Monday (June 2) and run for two weeks. Two more rounds take place this year in Accra, Ghana (August 21-27) and Poznan, Poland (December 1-12). A series of four major UNFCCC negotiating sessions are planned for 2009, culminating with UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.