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Authors: Heba Attia Mousa and Tu-My Tran
This November, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Both the transport sector and urbanization continue to gain precedence at the annual conference. The transport sector is the most heavily reliant sector on fossil fuels. According to the 2022 IPCC report, the sector is accountable for 20% of energy-related GHG emissions. It is a matter of grave urgency to accelerate the shift of the transport sector to be 100% emission-free
COP26 in Glasgow put the ZEVs (Zero Electric Vehicles) at the center of the transport sector discussions. The breakthrough goal was to make ZEVs the new normal, accessible, affordable, and sustainable mode of transport in all regions by 2030. The sector has set ambitious goals for the electrification of cars, vans, buses, and trucks by 2030. However, the gap is huge between the reality of electric cars in 2021 (1.3% of cars on the ground) and the target of 20-25% by 2030.
This year, the conference is taking an inclusive approach to urban mobility. The conference addresses walking, cycling, and public transport as key solutions towards the just transition of mobility. Meanwhile, the electrification of transport is still on the agenda. As COP27 is “Africa’s COP”, it will primarily address the challenges that face cities in the global South, on the road to decarbonized urban mobility. This includes financing urban mobility, infrastructure deficits, and justice.
The COP27 action agenda for urban mobility
In this context, the COP27 presidency, in cooperation with the international mobility community is working on a transport initiative. Last September, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt hosted 100 stakeholders of the sector, including ICLEI, to discuss and prioritize the outcomes of the initiative. The workshop covered active mobility, public transportation, urban freight, and logistics as well as informal transportation.
This discussion drew the outline for actionable flagship projects, which will be launched throughout the two weeks. 17 November will mark Solutions Day when particularly the afternoon is also dedicated to discussing equitable and green transport in Africa and the global South.
The SURGe initiative: Developing resilient urban systems through climate action
In recognition of the key role of cities in climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience actions, the COP27 presidency is launching the (SURGe) Initiative. The initiative, developed in cooperation with UN-Habitat and facilitated by ICLEI, stands for ‘Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next Generation’.
The SURGe initiative addresses the wider urban systems in terms of sustainability and resilience. It aims at promoting multi-level climate governance and focuses on five tracks, including urban mobility, with the following objectives:
- Accelerating and supporting the uptake of public transport and active mobility use in cities
- Reducing car use
- Universalizing early planning and coordination to achieve compact urban forms that enable public transport and active travel to thrive and trade to flourish
This gives cities the opportunity to act on the 2022 IPCC report which recognizes the role of cities in reducing transport-related fuel consumption through land use planning, demand management, and appropriate infrastructure for active mobility.
Finally, it is important to note that the COP27 presidency declared the goal to move from pledges to implementation. Cities in the global North and South are already exploring new solutions for decarbonizing urban mobility. To accelerate the process, ICLEI continues to provide practical guidance with the transition to Ecologistics and Ecomobility. Thus, the COP27 initiatives and exchanges are expected to produce new practical breakthroughs in the sector for a smoother and quicker transition.
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