Transport Research Foundation (TRF)
- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
Submission of TRF (Transport Research Foundation) to RIO +20 ? The United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development
The transport sector has been an important topic at world summits and intermediate meetings of the CSD since Rio 1992, notably though 20 years later 95% of transport still uses fossil fuel. Several references were made to transport in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation such as promoting public transport but despite this, market share for public transport world-wide is decreasing1. Transport now counts for almost 25% of energy related CO2 emissions at global level, and very few countries are investing enough in public policies to substantially tackle climate change with low carbon transport strategies. The growth in land transport for passengers and freight is a concern for sustainable as well as climate change reasons.
Considering the present economic crisis, the development of green economies becomes even more important and sustainable transport is a key component of this. It is therefore vital to assist the developing countries in building institutional and technical capacity that will allow them to develop low carbon transport policies to combat climate change in the following years.
RIO+20 aims to reaffirm political commitment to sustainable development, evaluate the progress on agreed commitments and furthermore explore emerging challenges. Low carbon transport is not only directly linked to the major topics of the RIO+20 summit, but it can also be considered as a key element to strengthen green economies by providing better access to markets, creating new jobs, increasing energy security, improving human health and prosperity, reducing road accidents and improving overall well-being at regional and national level. Access to sustainable transport is also vital for giving equitable and affordable access to education and jobs to women, youth and children in particular, many of whom often do not have direct access to private transport.
2 What is sustainable low carbon transport?
Rapid economic growth generates significant pressures on mobility, environment and human development. Increasing - mobility has resulted in growing motorised fleets of private cars, motorcycles and trucks, in order to satisfy overall demand for passenger and freight transport activity. It is estimated that the global vehicle fleet is on a course now to multiply three or four-fold in the next few decades and the market share of pedestrian access and walking is decreasing. As the world has become significantly more urbanised in the past 20 years this is now hampering development and quality of life. The current trends are expected to have severe negative impacts for the environment and in respect to social and economic terms resulting in:
Exploitation of natural resources
Degradation of environment and loss of biodiversity
Increased numbers of fatalities and injuries from road accidents
Degradation of human health and increased respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
Reduction of accessibility and an increase of social exclusion as a result of excessive motorised traffic and congestion
Loss of productivity and competitiveness Larger externalities ?as part of GDP- to the local and national economies
Efforts have been made internationally to tackle current unsustainable mobility patterns, aiming to reduce the need for transportation and also decrease dependence of transport on fossil fuels. In order to decarbonise the transport sector and promote sustainable mobility, a series of measures are recommended, best described by the holistic approach of Avoid-Shift-Improve which aims to promote i) avoiding or reducing the number of journeys taken, by integrating land-use and transport planning, ii) shifting to more efficient forms of transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking and iii) improving vehicle and fuel technologies for all motorised modes of transport, in order to reduce adverse environmental effects. Thus, investments should be directed to:
Infrastructure for public transport and non motorised transport
New technologies for all classes of vehicles
Cleaner fuels Intelligent Communication and Technologies to improve system efficiency and to substitute conventional transport
Technologies to improve public transport and freight services
Incentives for behaviour change and developing strategies to link land-use planning and transport
Successful examples can be found all over the world, but more are needed. Examples include:
Implementation of Mass Transit and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects. Sustainable transportation solutions need to be found with low capital investments, particularly for regions with considerable financial restraints. Best practices can be found in Latin America, Asia and Africa but also in developed countries
Public bike schemes, safebikeways and cycle paths as well as the integration of bikeways with public transport. There are many successful implementations over the past 5 years such as Paris, Barcelona and Mexico City. There are now 39 public bike schemes in China, including Hangzhou, thought to be the largest in the world, with more than 60,000 bikes.
Demand management policies such as Vehicle Quota Schemes as in Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing, urban tolling as in London and Stockholm and increasing pedestrian and low emission zones as in Berlin and Milan.
Use of new fuel technologies and clean vehicles. The car industry is moving slowly towards new fuel technologies and clean vehicles but they are still too expensive for most of the developing world. However, public transport has proven technology for the use of most alternative fuels ? electric propulsion, hybrid systems, CNG, Bio gas, Ethanol, Fuel cell as well as clean diesel which needs to be supported.
Research into cleaner fuels; higher quality of diesel and gasoline (unleaded gasoline, ultra low sulphur diesel and new synthetic diesels), as these are not available to the developing world and leaded fuel is only just being phased out.
Passenger information technologies, integrated fare collection systems and GPS technologies allow both public, private and freight transport to maximize efficiency yet they are expensive for much of the developing world. Particularly in the case of public transport, it has been observed that advanced technology can trigger a modal shift from car driving to public transport and the first BRT system in Mexico City showed a 15% shift away from car driving (among BRT users), resulting in almost 50,000 less car trips per day within a 20km corridor. Internet, teleconference applications, and global communication systems now decrease the need for travel. However, within the foreseeable future, not all activities can be carried out remotely and therefore transport needs to become more efficient and low carbon focussed.
Demographic changes ? increasing urbanisation, more people living in the developing than developed world ? as well as the road transport growth rates, shows that it is increasingly apparent that transport must be part of sustainable development goals. Recent evaluation of the Millennium Development Goalsi showed an uneven progress across countries and regions. For example, whereas India and China achieved notable progress in poverty alleviation, sub-Saharan Africa showed adverse progress not only in poverty alleviation but also dramatic increases in traffic accident rates. Likewise, in respect to the seventh ?transport oriented- Millennium Development Goal, there was very little progress on environmental protection in relation to reducing transport related CO2 emissions.
The 18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, held in May 2010, reported that most developing countries still lack adequate transport infrastructure and services. As a consequence, access to basic services such as health and education, as well as to jobs and income generating opportunities is difficult for the poor, and in particular women, youth and children. The latter jeopardize the eventual achievement of internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals.
3 Sustainable low carbon transport and green economy
Rio+20 presents a unique opportunity to envision a green economy with sustainable low carbon transport. The transport sector can make a strong contribution to a green economy and can deliver green job opportunities. Public investments directed towards infrastructure for public transport, non-motorised transport and green transport technologies contribute to the creation of new local jobs and help support local economies. An example arises from the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit projects, where a BRT replaces a traditional bus operation (individual bus owners), employees are offered more secure employment and better conditions in terms of working hours, safety, salary, training and other benefits. Latin America is now in a position to export their knowledge on BRT to others.
Likewise, low carbon transport will create new business opportunities, through public-private partnerships. Increased private sector involvement for the implementation and operation of public transport systems, non-motorised and bike and car share services, park & ride facilities, intermodal interchange hubs, intelligent transportation systems and better freight logistics are just examples.
UNEP?s chapter on transport in their recently published a report on Green Economy examines its role in a green economy and identifies strategies to ensure that future investments in the transport sector will be increasingly green.
4 Sustainable low carbon transport and poverty eradication
Poverty eradication is one of the top priorities in the current political agenda worldwide, as well as a primary theme of the Rio+20 summit. Poverty alleviation and eradication of hunger has been explicitly addressed by the United Nations through the Millennium Declaration where special attention was given to goals that aim to tackle poverty in developing countries.
The Aichi statement6 (2005) on environmental sustainable transport reaffirmed the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and also noted the important contribution of sustainable transport systems towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals through improving access to education, employment opportunities and health care. Moreover it recognised the need to develop national and local policies in order to promote social equity through safe and affordable urban transport systems that may alleviate poverty, include gender aspects in urban transport planning and satisfy the basic needs of most vulnerable users such as the children, elderly and disabled.
The Bangkok 2020 Declaration (August 2010) adopted by 22 participating Asian governments of the Fifth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum also suggests a set of performance indicators ? including indicators of social equity - to measure progress on the implementation of environmentally sustainable transport. Similarly the Bogota Declaration, the Regional Sustainable Transport Forum held in Bogota, Colombia (June 2011) highlights the need to develop and adopt Avoid-Shift-Improve strategies towards sustainable development and offers a working definition of sustainable transport - "the provision of services and infrastructure for the mobility of people and goods needed for economic and social development, and improved quality of life and competitiveness. These services and transport infrastructure provide secure, reliable, economical, efficient, equitable and affordable access to all, while mitigating the local and global negative impacts on health and the environment, in the short, medium and long term, without compromising the development of future generations".
If progress in implementing sustainable development and eradicating poverty has been slow in the past 20 years, it has not been due to a lack of declarations and statements, thus international action as well as the commitment of developed countries to provide financial instruments and technical capacity to developing countries is increasingly urgent.
5 Institutional requirements for sustainable low carbon transport
Robust institutional frameworks are essential in order to facilitate the development and implementation of public policies towards sustainable low carbon transport. Although a large part of transport planning occurs at local or state level, public policies - as well as the availability of financial resources - are usually discussed at national level. Hence, it is important for the Rio+20 summit to propose institutional arrangements that will strengthen sustainable low carbon transport at a national level, but also provide the local governments with institutional and financial instruments that will facilitate their efforts towards sustainable development and green transport.
Greening transport requires key enabling conditions, such as:
Designing appropriate regulation, planning and information provision
Setting the right financial conditions and economic incentives
Ensuring technology transfer and access Strengthening institutions and capacity
Economic incentives and financial stimulus are key issues for developing countries, thus financial patterns should be reformed in order to provide adequate funding for green transport, by investing in technology, capacity building and infrastructure, and also by shifting investments towards sustainable low carbon transport. International agencies and development banks have a particular role to play in strengthening institutional capacity and providing the financial instruments that are required. Rio+20 therefore presents a unique opportunity to increase political will and make the respective commitments.
Transparency and accountability are also key issues to discuss, reaffirming Principle 10 of Rio Declaration which urges for citizen?s participation in decision making, access to environmental information and access to juridical and administrative proceedings, aiming to facilitate and encourage public awareness as best instrument to deal with environmental issues. Strengthen the commitment to promote sustainable modes as stated in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Recommendations and a call for action for governments at RIO+20 June 2012; we urge:
1. Governments attending Rio+20 to recognise the important links between sustainable transport, greening economies and poverty alleviation.
2. To agree that sustainable, low carbon transport is core to sustainable development goals. The sustainability of transport should be mentioned as a target in any declaration and follow up to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
3. Sustainable transport is embedded within sustainable development goals. A higher level of accountability is needed and enabling frameworks so sustainable, low carbon transport facilitates economic development.
The collection of comparable data and statistics on transport activity is coordinated at international; level (along similar lines to the collect of energy use and consumption).
Eight universal key indicators are suggested:
i) Share of passengers and freight7 by mode and average vehicle load factors by mode
ii) Annual transport fossil fuel consumption by mode and related greenhouse gases
iii) Vehicle fleet size, average fuel efficiency and total vehicle-km travelled by mode
iv) Share of household income spent on transport by poorest 20% (urban and rural split)
v) Share of local and national GDP spent on transport (urban and rural split)
vi) Proportion of urban roadways with safe walking & cycling facilities
vii) Proportion of population within 1 km of public transport
viii) Ratio of traffic deaths amongst wealthiest 20% to poorest 20% of population