Transport services provide access to jobs, goods and services and are essential for agricultural, industrial and commercial activities. Disruptions to transport services have a direct impact on the economy and social well-being of communities. Left unmanaged, climate change will significantly affect the operational, financial, environmental and social performance of Transport (Figure 1). In addition, climate change presents a significant risk for global transport infrastructure investments, estimated globally at $1.4 trillion to $2.1 trillion per year.
The Paris Agreement agreed by 196 countries at COP21 places unprecedented importance on the need for adaptation to climate change impacts. However, presently there is a relative neglect of adaptation in the transport sector as reflected in:
Policy Level: 86 percent of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), communicated by 189 Parties of the Convention, include provisions for economy-wide adaptation. However, only 16 percent of the NDCs communicated identified transport as a priority area for adaptation and only 4 percent specify adaptation measures for the transport sector.
Climate Finance: To date, climate finance has been sparsely used for climate change adaptation, especially in the transport sector. Only six percent of the transport projects included in the Transport Climate Finance Data base of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport have adaptation as main focus.
This highlights the need for much greater awareness of transport’s role in economic and social resilience and of transport’s own vulnerabilities to climate change. It is imperative that the transport sector starts playing a larger role in using climate finance to leverage public and private investments for climate resilience and adaptation.
Climate change scenarios are uncertain and the severity of climate impacts also varies greatly with the geophysical risk exposure of individual locations, their resilience and adaptive capacity. Nevertheless, decisions on adaptation must be made today, especially with respect to long-lived transport infrastructure assets that have the potential to lock-in development patterns many decades. Pro-active adaptation can be a low/no-regret option in cases where project savings accrued over the infrastructure life-cycle offset the higher construction and operational costs of inaction. Decision making on adaptation, especially in the case of transport infrastructure and systems with a long lifetime, needs to consider flexible responses to a changing climate allowing for adaptive management.
Crucially, sustainable passenger and freight transport systems must adapt to climate change to maintain reliability and increase market share, in order to achieve their full mitigation potential.
The signatories to this Declaration -many of whom are already engaged in important initiatives to enhance the climate resilience and sustainability of transportation: