Point 1: In 2006, transport accounted for 13 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), while 23 per cent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion were transport-related. Between 1970 and 2006, global GHG emissions from the transport sector increased by 130 per cent globally.

Point 2: While developed countries are responsible for the largest share of GHG emissions from the transport sector, emissions from developing countries are growing rapidly. Transport-related CO2 emissions are expected to increase 57 per cent worldwide in the period 2005–2030, and transport in developing countries will contribute about 80 per cent of this increase, from both passenger and freight transport.

Point 3: Most of the current GHG emissions in the transport sector and virtually all the expected growth in emissions come from private cars, light duty vehicles and trucks.

That is the backdrop against which the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport – the SloCaT Partnership, that is – came into existence. The Partnership pointedly addresses sustainability issues in the transport sector in developing countries, with initial focus on Asia, Latin America and Africa. The approach is shaped by the Bellagio Declaration on Transportation and Climate Change and the Common Policy Framework (CPF) on Transport and Climate Change in Developing Countries, which were developed at the May 2009 meeting on transport and climate change in Bellagio, Italy.

The Bellagio Declaration called on organizations and individuals to support urgent action to change the trajectory of future GHG emissions from transport and to make transport in developing countries more sustainable. It appealed to all participants in the climate negotiations leading up to COP 15 to provide strong support for the following three principles:

  • Principle 1: Effective climate action is incomplete without addressing the overall system performance of the transport sector.
  • Principle 2: Climate action in the transport sector should recognize co-benefits.

  • Principle 3: Carbon finance mechanisms and associated procedures should catalyse sustainable transport policies, programmes and projects. 
Twenty-one representatives from eighteen organizations working on transport and climate change in developing countries met to build consensus on required policy response to the growing CO2 emissions from transport.

The Bellagio meeting also produced a Common Policy Framework (CPF) on Transport and Climate Change in Developing Countries. The CPF recognized the challenge for developing countries to provide increased mobility and access to goods and services to foster further economic and social development, while at the same time not compromising the environmental sustainability of this further development. The parallel reality was also that the prevalent motorization paradigm had proven to be unsustainable.

Most of the current GHG and other emissions in the transport sector and virtually all the expected growth in emissions come from private cars and trucks. The challenge, therefore, is to reduce the dependence on individual vehicles, to ensure that vehicles need to drive as little as possible, and that they are as clean as possible.

Thus, to ensure that developing countries achieve a high level of mobility and access while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, transport policies and actions need to focus on:

(a) avoiding/reducing the need to travel through better integration of land use and transportation planning;
(b) shifting travel to – or keeping the modal share of the most efficient modes of transport – public transport, cycling and walking; and
(c) improving existing forms of transport through technological improvements and innovations.

Technological improvements and innovations will include making engines and fuels less carbon-intensive and managing transport network operations for peak efficiency through such strategies as smart traffic and public transport system management.

The Partnership has as its overarching goal the mobilization of global support to reduce the growth of GHG emissions generated by land transport in developing countries, through promoting more sustainable, low-carbon transport. There are four specific objectives:

  • The integration of sustainable, low-carbon transport in climate negotiations, as well as national and local climate policies and programmes

  • The integration of climate considerations in regional, national and local transport policies

  • Mainstream sustainable, low-carbon transport in strategies and operations of international development organizations

  • Contribute to sustainable development and the millennium development goals, especially providing access to or for goods and services by lower income groups
The Partnership has a multi-stakeholder membership representing development organizations, intergovernmental organizations, governmental organizations, NGOs, private sector and academe. It is hosted by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA); Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and African Development Bank act as regional focal points; and German Technical Cooperation hosts and supports a liaison office in Bonn. Other members of the Partnership currently include Interface for Cycling Expertise (I-CE), International Energy Agency (IEA), China Urban Transport Research Centre (CUSTReC), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Institute of Urban Transport India (IUTI), The Rockefeller Foundation, Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM), and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The main criteria for membership of the Partnership are: (a) active commitment to work towards sustainable, low-carbon transport; and (b) work at national, regional, or global level in one of the membership categories. Members are expected to make their best efforts to contribute to the objectives of the Partnership (on non-binding basis), including sharing of information, participating in dialogue and cooperating with other members where appropriate. There are no legal or financial obligations connected to the membership, though members are encouraged to financially support the activities of the Partnership.

The Partnership builds on previous work on sustainable transport by UN-DESA within their mandate as defined by Agenda 21 and the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and a large series of events on sustainable transport and climate change by the members of this Partnership in both Asia and Latin America.

The Partnership’s working groups are guided by certain defining premises:

  • Data requirements should not only focus on data requirements for GHG reduction but also on data at the city level, to enable city governments to plan for transportation systems to address the mobility needs of people. It is important to look also at the data requirements in respect of rural transport, both of people and agricultural produce, which in most developing countries is now being motorized.
  • With a new post-2012 climate agreement in context, it is relevant to articulate measures for the scale-up of climate finance and capacity building, particularly through the use of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) for the transport sector.

  • The implementation of sustainable, low-carbon transport will require substantial changes in the financing of transport in developing countries, and towards this aspect, the Partnership will engage the transport, development and climate community to improve the understanding of key concepts and issues on financing, and to allow for timely input into the design of a post-2012 financing framework to benefit sustainable, low-carbon transport.
  • Efforts in the areas of awareness raising, capacity building and policy dialogue will need to be continued and intensified to realize changes in policies and investment decisions as well as behavioural patterns by major transport stakeholders.