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Virtual parliamentary roundtable on Sustainable transport: low-carbon quick wins

This event was held on 7th July in collaboration with the High Volume Transport (HVT) programme, represented by Mr Bernard Obika and Ms Marcela Tarazona, supported by the Department for International Development in the UK (DFID), represented by Mr Colin Gourley, and co-sponsored by the Pan African Parliament. Parliamentarians from Ghana, India, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe participated in the discussions.

Gary Haq (Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI) focused his presentation on opportunities for climate and clean air action in road transport in low-income countries. How, in a post-Covid world, can we utilise this slight change in mindset to invest in low-carbon transport and to encourage people to use other modes of sustainable transport? One of the key solutions to this question involves the implementation of the Avoid, Shift, Improve approach. We must avoid and reduce the need for motorised travel through transport-demand management, urban public transport, and the effective construction and use of railways; we must shift to more environmentally-friendly modes of transport, such as walking and cycling; and we must improve the energy efficiency of transport.

Mr Haq presented a number of ‘low-carbon quick-wins’, short-term measures we can take to achieve immediate effects in the transport sector:

  1. Fossil fuel subsidy phase out

  2. National/urban sustainability plans

  3. Fuel economy standards and policies

  4. Diesel quality standards

  5. Limiting import of second-hand vehicles

  6. Electric two- and three-wheelers

  7. Low-emission zones

  8. Walking and cycling infrastructure

  9. Road pricing: tolls/congestion charging

  10. Green freight

During the subsequent discussion, it was mentioned that we need to find a solution to the flow of second-hand vehicles from higher-income countries to lower-income countries. The challenge of social distancing within vehicles was also addressed, as reducing the number of passengers reduces income for public transport operators. It is necessary to translate large-scale climate issues into daily life. Several parliamentarians highlighted the importance of raising the ambitions of the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) in regards to sustainable transport. The revision of the NDCs will coincide with the post-Covid recovery packages, posing a unique opportunity to leapfrog to a low-carbon transport system.

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