En Route to COP26: Transport decarbonisation is essential to green, equitable recovery

Scheduled 12 months prior to the postponed COP26, the event was designed to accelerate collective and timely action by engaging transport actors to quickly, efficiently, and fairly achieve the low carbon transport transition.

“We speak a lot about what we need to do…but we also have to talk about the don’ts, if we want to have coherent strategies and go in the pathway of decarbonisation we also have to stop doing the wrong things, that’s the most difficult.”

Verena Flues, GIZ

As one of the fastest-growing sources of emissions in recent years, the transport sector has the challenge and urgency to move forward on pathways that are consistent with the overall objectives set out in the Paris Agreement.

Likewise, the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on a global level and the new problems that it created, especially in transport and in the mobility of people, has posed new challenges for the sector and for the implementation of recovery strategies that not only address immediate needs but also allow to “build back forward”.

In this context, En Route to COP26 addressed seven central themes, focusing on the decarbonisation of transport and the implementation of climate strategies in the sector. The event was spread across twelve sessions, with the participation of more than 150 exhibitors, including global and national authorities, experts, representatives of international institutions, academics and professionals from the sector, and a high number of participants.

After three days of discussions, some of the key messages of this meeting were:

  • Now is the time for international, national and sub-national regulatory and investment frameworks to enable the transformative force of passenger and freight transport decarbonisation measures, in full alignment with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • Applying the hierarchy of Avoid-Shift-Improve strategies with integrated, inter-modal and balanced approaches is central to unleashing the full benefits of transport decarbonisation, in terms of emissions reduction and equitable access to mobility.
  • We all have a role to play. When we pool our collective multi-stakeholder know-how, vision and leadership we multiply the positive impact of transport decarbonisation on people, planet, prosperity and partnerships.


Changing Transport: GIZ’s participation in En Route to COP26

Peer-to-Peer Dialogues

During the event’s opening session, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications of Chile, Mrs. Gloria Hutt, announced the Peer-to-peer technical dialogues.

These regional dialogues (in Asia, Africa and Latin America) will bring together representatives of Ministries of Transport and Environment/Climate to network and exchange on successful approaches, implementation strategies, and available tools for decarbonising transport and ensuring a green recovery. Chile will host the Latin America and the Caribbean series as COP25 Presidency.

The exchanges are being supported by the German Environment Ministry (BMU) with the assistance of the German international cooperation organisation GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).


National climate and transition to sustainable transport

From a multistakeholder perspective, this session sought to enhance understanding on how to link national climate strategies and sustainable transport towards a paradigm shift to full decarbonisation of the transport sector.

These were the key insights:

  • With Kyoto Protocol we have seen that National climate plans can work, and in the last decade we started to see a slow decoupling of transport sector emissions from GDP growth,
  • Although still low, we start to see and increasing coverage of transport in NDCs,
  • Importance of finding appropriate national challenges – not imported solutions that do not match the situation on the ground,
  • National transport decarbonisation is a significant governance, or “orchestration”, challenge. All levels of government need to play their role. National activity is required to coordinate across the different levels and stakeholders,
  • Dialogue with and consensus among all stakeholders is very important – but generally not done sufficiently,
  • The traditional separation of tasks between climate and transport actors must be overcome,
  • There is the need for policy consistency, for different sectors working together, for mainstreaming climate into transport planning/policy making and for considering gender and marginalisation.


MobiliseYourCity’s NUMP Guidelines

The session “Catalysing immediate action in sustainable urban mobility – Do current opportunities help us deliver results sooner than we thought?”, led by EUROCLIMA+, MobiliseYourCity, Rocky Mountain Institute, SLOCAT, and UITP, highlighted critical and near-term opportunities to spur green and equitable recovery through sustainable, low carbon urban mobility.

The session also presented the MobiliseYourCity National Urban Mobility Policies and Investment Programmes (NUMP) Guidelines, which aim at supporting policy makers in developing and emerging economies to develop new and strengthen existing National Urban Mobility Policies and Investment Programmes (NUMPs).

The session also featured an interactive segment, where participants identified some of the most pressing challenges and promising actions that can be taken to drive sustainable, low carbon urban mobility.

The main questions and results of this segment were

  • What is required from national public policy to spur immediate action to decarbonise urban mobility?
    • Coordination / discussion forum for National and Local levels of government
    • A National Citizens Charter for Urban Mobility
    • Fossil fuel taxes and differentiated vehicle taxation
  • What is required from local public policy to spur immediate action to decarbonise urban mobility?
    • Increasing awareness on the ground and providing incentives for low carbon and sustainable mobility, and disincentives for conventional fuel-powered vehicles
    • A clear vision for the long-term transition towards people-centred urban development
    • Include more tactical urbanism, recovery of public space and micro mobility
  • What else is needed to decarbonise urban transport?
    • Financial instruments/accessible finance options for sustainable mobility infrastructure and technologies
    • A focus on building infrastructure for moving people and goods rather than infrastructure for moving vehicles
    • Good collaboration between national and local levels and other stakeholders


Please find here the full outcome document, the event report, all the session presentations and recordings and the participant survey.


Macarena Castillo, Santiago

10 Principles for Sustainable Urban Transport