Climate Express brings over 400 delegates and journalists to Copenhagen for UN Climate Change Conference
The Climate Express, which departed from Brussels on 5 December, was the final stage of the global Train to Copenhagen project organized by the International Union of Railways (UIC), Russian Railways (RZD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and conducted ahead of the COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December.
The main goal of the project is to draw the attention of conference delegates and the media to the role of transport in climate change, and to promote rail transport, which could provide one of the solutions to the problem of continually rising carbon dioxide emissions.
The campaign, organized to mark a transition to a new generation of agreements on future global climate cooperation, began on 5 November in Kyoto (Japan) with an international Union of Railways (UIC) seminar on the role of rail transport in protecting the planet’s climate system.
From 21 November to 1 December, people who took part in the seminar travelled on a symbolic journey along the Trans-Siberian route in a special RZD carriage. The group included representatives of the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and journalists from Great Britain and Italy.
As part of the environmentalists’ journey across Russia’s railway, stops were made at five major cities – Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Moscow. Each stop gave participants an opportunity to meet with representatives of local authorities, environmental organizations, and journalists, to be introduced to innovative railway technologies, and to personally witness the signs of climate change on Russia’s territory.
On 1 December the train arrived in Moscow, from where the team travelled on to Brussels to join the Climate Express. Journey participants wrote up a Message from the Rail Community to the Copenhagen Climate Conference, which will be handed over to conference participants.
Globally, transport is responsible for 23% of man-made planet-warming emissions. And the main problem is that while other sectors have been able to reduce their emissions, transport sector emissions are rising steadily. Curbing this growth and achieving a reduction in transport emissions is one of the vital issues on the agenda of the fight against climate change.
Rail transport is of decisive significance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating reliable, environmentally safe transport systems. It has the highest fuel efficiency of all forms of transport both in terms of passengers/km and tons/km. A journey from Brussels to Copenhagen by plane or car would result in 3.5 times more harmful emissions than the same journey by train.
The Kyoto Protocol, governing joint global action to stop climate change, expires at the end of 2012. In Copenhagen, the signing of a political agreement is expected on stepping up international talks on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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