Alok and Jill went to Dubai

Alok and Jill went to Dubai

ECF was present at the COP28

Alok Sharma, made his way to the COP28 in Dubai last week, to hammer home one important message: “... the language on a fossil fuel phase-out is going to be absolutely vital.”  Those who have financial interests in oil and gas production are pushing for the weaker term “phase-down”.  I do hope Alok’s appeal for moral rectitude will be heard over the din of vested interests.

Regardless of the stronger or weaker version of that commitment, the need to dramatically reduce emissions of the transport sector is evident. Mention transport de-carbonizing and most people think of new technology that enables the replacement of thermal engines with electric motors. But there are other means to lower emissions, with less costs and added benefits.

For the first time, a cycle advocacy group is present at a COP summit. Jill Warren, the CEO of the ECF was in Dubai to remind participates of a proven and relatively easy win for carbon emissions reduction; urban cycling. “The world needs to urgently decarbonize transport to meet climate goals, and enabling more cycling is a quick, affordable and reliable way to do this, while at the same time improving people’s health and lives.” stated Jill Warren at COP28 in DubaI.

Does a shift to urban cycling deliver the goods? Absolutely! If you have a million dollars, spend it on a new highway, and emissions will increase by 5’000 tons of CO2 over 20 years. Spend it on protected cycle paths, they will decrease by about the same amount.  A new ITDP study sponsored by the FIA foundations shows that networks of protected bicycle lanes in middle-income cities are a cost-effective way of reducing emissions compared to other approaches to de-carbonizing transportation. “These networks create more economic value annually than they cost to build, given the transportation cost savings and the public health benefits of increased exercise and outperform all other infrastructure developments”, according to the report found here: Protected Bicycle Lanes Protect the Climate.

And yet a recent PATH report found that only 5% of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change countries have a national policy and an NDC addressing the role of cycling. Why this disconnect?  Are we incapable of envisioning such a transformation of our cities? The transition from horse-and-carriage to motor vehicle was surely more monumental than developing a network of protected cycle ways and giving some extra space to pedestrians.   Is it because cities officials are not involved in the process of defining the NDCs?  That does not mean that mayors have been doing nothing:  C40 has published an NDC Ambition Handbook, the cities call to national ministers to get on the ball.  According to C40: While in the seven years since world leaders signed the Paris Agreement, no nation has developed 1.5°C-compatible plans, but 62 C40 cities have done so, with more in the works. Looking into the C40 handbook, the word adaptation appears. Maybe this is what frightens many ministers, and leads them to overlook protected cycle paths as a contributor to carbon emissions reduction.  Do they still believe that this is a crisis that can be overcome applying new technology while continuing with our same mobility habits?  Heat, drought, and floods will require adaptations anyway. Instead of enduring the onslaught of future climatic convulsions as we sit in traffic in electric SUVs, we should be looking to forge our future urban habitats.

We need bold national leaders who see the climate crisis as an opportunity for positive and healthy changes to urban living. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres put it more bluntly: “Cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost”.

Bart Dozier




Notre ville en chiffres

Our Mission: Promoting mobility behaviour change

We provide guidance and support to employers wanting to develop incentive programmes for their employees so that they may transition from carbon intensive commuting to more active mobility choices, for the benefit of the environment but also to strengthen employer brand image.

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