January 05, 2012

Transport for Sustainable Development: COP17 helps move the agenda forward

When the 17th COP in Durban, South Africa ended last month, the future of climate change legislation was looking up. Not only did all the signatories to Kyoto (including the U.S. for a historic first time ever) agree to forge a treaty by 2015 to bring all countries under a legally binding emissions reduction agreement by 2020 but the parties established the Green Climate Fund, a new fund that will support projects, programs, policies and other activities in developing countries related to climate change mitigation.

ITDP was present for the entirety of the meeting and hosted and participated in numerous side events with its ‘Bridging the Gap’ partners that focused on legally binding agreements for the transport sector in the post-2012 process (COP-17, Rio +20, EST Forum). Land Transport was not just a topic of discussion for those actively working in the sector, but was an important topic within groups not directly involved in transport as well, such as the World Health Organization or country delegations like Germany. The prominence and focus of transport shows the growin importance of transportation-related issues as well as the considerable effort of the “Bridging the Gap Initiative: Pathways for transport in the post 2012 process”(BtG) initiative.

For the last four years, the BtG initiative has been very active in the UNFCCC process with the goal of educating stakeholders about the importance of mitigating emissions from the transport sector. Its success is seen in the number of countries that are including transport in the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMAs), the official plans to combat the effects of climate change.

During COP17, ITDP, as a core member of the BtG and the Partnership for Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), hosted two side events during COP-17.
On December 1st, ITDP, together with the BtG initiative organized an official UNFCCC side event.  This event brought together leading transport experts to discuss current issues in international climate policy and its repercussions for the transport sector. ITDP made a presentation on methodologies and models used to measure emission reductions from the transport sector, showcasing ITDP’s Transportation Emissions Evaluation Model for Projects (TEEMP). Other presentations, made by EMBARQ, GIZ and TRL, focused on how to make land transport part of national climate change action plans and how it can be incorporated into NAMA development. A panel with government representatives from Colombia, Indonesia and South Africa followed the presentations, along with a considerable participation of the audience with a Q&A session.

Its second event, done in partnership with the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of South Africa, facilitated a dialogue and best practice sharing between countries that are proactively engaged in the development of transport-related mitigation activities and multilateral development organizations that are developing strategies to finance low-carbon transport initiatives. The event included senior representatives of the major regional development banks and the ministries of transport from South Africa, Colombia, and Indonesia.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the outcomes of COP17 in Durban can be grouped in four main elements: the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, the design of a Green Climate Fund, a mandate to get all countries by 2015 to sign a legally binding agreement to cut GHG emissions no later than 2020 and a work plan for this coming year in a process detailed by the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action”.  From these elements, the transport sector should monitor closely the development of the Green Climate Fund that is posed to channel up to $100 billion USD a year by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation action in the developing world. ITDP will stay tuned in the development of this fund and is being considered to become an official observer to the UN Climate Investment Funds for the next two years.

To view the presentations from the side events see Global Climate Policy resources.

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