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UN Secretary-General urges transport ministers to act on climate change

The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has urged the world’s transport ministers to accelerate their efforts to combat climate change. In a video message released ahead of the annual meeting of transport ministers during their global summit in the German city of Leipzig, Ban said, “I urge all of you to accelerate your efforts and find new green solutions. It is time to reshape the world’s transport systems for a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future.”

Ban called sustainable transport, “a common thread” linking the upcoming UN Summit in September in New York, USA, where world leaders will define a post-2015 development agenda, and the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in December, when governments will seek to agree on concrete actions to limit the effects of global warming.

Tomorrow (May 28), transport ministers will discuss mitigating transport-related climate change impacts of trade and tourism during the ministerial session of the Leipzig Summit, where they will also work on a joint declaration.

Organized by the International Transport Forum (ITF), an intergovernmental organization of 54 member countries that covers all transport modes, the Annual Summit is the world’s largest gathering of transport ministers and the leading global platform for dialogue on transport policy. At yesterday’s (May 26) meeting, delegates were informed that road deaths have continued to fall but strong disparities exist between countries, according to the latest data compiled by IRTAD (International Road Traffic and Accident Database), the ITF’s permanent working group on road safety. The 2014 provisional data shows that 15 of the 28 IRTAD member countries for which figures are available managed to reduce the number of road deaths, while eight countries saw an increase, and there was no significant change for the remaining five. However, the long-term trend shows a very significant decrease of 42% between 2000 and 2013 in IRTAD countries.

Although substantial overall fatality reductions have been achieved since 2000, the pace of improvement for vulnerable road users is lower than for car occupants. While fatalities among car occupants were reduced by 54% between 2000 and 2013, decreases were only 36% for pedestrians, 35% for cyclists and 22% for motorcyclists. As a consequence, in many countries road safety priorities have recently shifted from motorized rural traffic to vulnerable road users in urban areas. Against this background, the Second Global High Level Conference on Road Safety in Brazil on November 18-19 will review progress within the context of the UN’s ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’ and agree on measurable objectives for the next five years.

The UN’s goal is to ‘stabilize and reduce’ global road fatalities by 2020. The IRTAD Group’s chairman, Fred Wegman, commented, “The IRTAD Group is aware that its current members account for only 6% of global road fatalities, and it is our intention to pursue our geographical expansion and to assist countries interested in building up and improving their road safety data system.”

May 27, 2015

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