23 September 2014 – Four global transport initiatives announced at the United Nations Climate Summit today aim to put the transport sector on track toward a low-carbon future and save trillions of dollars in fuel costs in the process.

According to a statement, these and other initiatives announced at Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a host of measures, from increasing the number of new bus and metro lines to increasing the number of electric vehicles and introducing car- and bike-sharing.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a shift to sustainable, low-carbon transport by the middle of the century could save governments, companies and individuals up to $70 trillion. And the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says such a shift could prevent transport’s greenhouse gas emissions from doubling by the middle of the century. That could go a long way toward limiting the rise in global average temperature to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

Transport contributes about one quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions and about one fifth of energy use. Under a “business-as-usual” model, energy use and green gas emissions are projected to rise by nearly 50 per cent by 2030, and even more thereafter.

The Urban Electric Mobility Initiative, launched today, calls for electric vehicles to make up at least 30 percent of all new vehicles sold in cities by 2030. The plan is supported by private companies, including Michelin, one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, as well as UN-Habitat.

“Mobilizing support from the private sector is vital to enable us to implement technological breakthroughs in urban mobility” said Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, in a statement.

Regarding trains, the International Union of Railways – with 240 members worldwide including in Europe, China, Russia, India and the United States – launched the Low-Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge to promote the use of rails for freight and transport.

“We expect this initiative to result in 75 per cent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from rail transport by 2050,” said Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of the International Railway Association. “In total, we aim to save over one gigaton of carbon emissions globally through improved energy efficiency and through building partnerships.”

Another initiative — the International Association of Public Transport Declaration on Climate Leadership — brings together 1,300 member organizations from 92 countries to provide access to climate-smart public transportation for city dwellers.

More than 350 of those member organizations brought pledges, commitments and actions to the Summit for more than 110 public transport undertakings in everything from buses to cable cars.

The International Civil Aviation Organization promised to step up the commitment to reach the industry’s long-term global goal of halving net CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

“Governments, under the auspices of ICAO, and the aviation industry, represented through the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, are jointly taking proactive and concrete actions to achieve common goals to further improve air transport fuel efficiency and stabilize the sector’s net CO2 emissions from 2020.”

Toward that end, ICAO is supporting the development of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation by working with partners to develop a global CO2 standard for new aircraft and by designing and implementing a global measure for international aviation from 2020 onward. More than 100 industry leaders – including Virgin Atlantic and Thai Airways – have taken action toward that goal.

Sustainable transport is one of eight action areas identified as critical during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a two-day meeting held in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014.