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The Second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference

Following up on the first Global Sustainable Transport Conference held in 2016 in Ashgabat, the Second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference took place from 14-16 October 2021 in Beijing.

The focus of the conference laid on the opportunities, challenges and solutions towards achieving sustainable transport worldwide. Representatives from 171 countries attended the conference online and offline to discuss how to align transport with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

The Second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference in Beijing, China; Picture Source: United Nations

As transport is responsible for approx. a quarter of direct CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and a sixth of total emissions, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on countries across the world to join forces to build more sustainable transport systems and accelerate the decarbonisation process of the entire transport industry:

“All stakeholders have a role to play”, “We must decarbonise all means of transport, in order to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 globally”.

In China, transport accounts for about 10 per cent of the country’s total CO2 emissions. It is recognised as a key sector to achieve the recently set targets of 2030 CO2 emission peaking and 2060 carbon neutrality (see figure 1). In his opening speech on October 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more ambitions to promote green and low carbon travel, new energy, green infrastructure, intelligent transport and international cooperation to make transport more environment and climate-friendly and foster global connectivity. Mr. Xi also announced that “China will set up a Global Innovation and Knowledge Center for Sustainable Transport, as a contribution to global transport development“, which is committed to knowledge-sharing and capacity building in developing countries on sustainable transport.

Figure 1 – China’s climate protection roadmap (selection), Source: GIZ

Liu Zhenmin, undersecretary-general of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, highlighted that:

Efforts to accelerate the sustainable transformation of the transport sector are essential to reduce climate-harming emissions and improve the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.

In light of the conference, the Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport (CLCT) project, which is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, was highlighted by the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China (MoT) as an important element of the international cooperation supporting the low carbon development of China’s transport sector.

Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport; Picture Source: GIZ

Since 2015, the CLCT project has supported the Sino-German policy dialogue on long-term climate change mitigation strategies in the transport sector at both national and municipal levels. In 2020, together with Beijing Transport Institute (BTI) and German Think Tank Agora Verkehrswende, the Beijing Dialogue workshop series was initiated to discuss the future of sustainable transport and mobility in Beijing. As reported after the UN conference, Mr Guo Jifu, head of the Beijing Transport Institute, said: “It is a trend for China to cooperate with the world. Transportation is becoming an increasingly important way to improve connectivity with the world.”

The CLCT project also facilitates the exchange on the potentials of digitalisation, innovative technologies and integrated mobility concepts for fostering and promoting sustainable and low-carbon future transport and mobility. To this end, part of the project implementation focuses on:

  1. the promotion of Smart Logistics
  2. the promotion of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMP)
  3. the sustainable development of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)
  4. the establishment of an Active Mobility Alliance in China

The objective of the CLCT project is to support the Chinese Ministry of Transport (MoT) and other partners on national and city level in elaborating and implementing effective and efficient implementation strategies and policies to further develop a climate-friendly transport sector in China. Providing an overview on the future of transport in China, please find here some selected publications:

  1. Towards zero emissions: Overview on China’s climate pathway and implications to the transport sector
  2. Policy Briefing & English Translation: National Comprehensive Three-dimensional Transportation Network Planning Outline
  3. Policy Briefing & Translation: NEV Development Plan 2035
  4. New Energy Buses in China: Overview on Policies and Impacts