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<< Back to: ICLEI e-News | issue 11, December 2007 - January 2008

Global Alliance for EcoMobility launched

The Global Alliance for EcoMobility, an alliance for walking, cycling, wheeling and 'passenging' was launched at the Bali UN Climate Conference 2007. More than 30 global companies, business and user associations, expert organizations, local governments and United Nations agencies have joined together in a partnership for the integrated promotion of walking, cycling, wheeling and 'passenging' (the use of public transport) in cities. “Climate change must be addressed in every community worldwide. We cannot just wait for governments to come to an agreement. As far as urban transport is concerned, we have got a solution to offer: EcoMobility”, says Konrad Otto-Zimmermann who heads ICLEI, an association of over 700 cities in 67 countries that are dedicated to sustainable development. Building a zero-carbon mobility system for cities, this is the ultimate goal of the Alliance. “Whilst billions are being spent on having engineers make the car less environmentally harmful, let’s be aware: the ‘zero carbon vehicle’ was invented more than 200 years ago and is called the bicycle”, says Otto-Zimmermann. Push and pull carts even have a history of thousands of years. Walking was invented when humans began to walk upright – and thus saved 75% energy. With the bicycle, humans even surpassed evolution – moving by bicycle requires less energy input per kilometre than walking. The potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in urban transport is significant. In the European Union, a majority of car journeys are short distance drives: ten percent of trips by car are shorter than one kilometre, 50 percent shorter than five kilometres. If only 30 percent of car journeys below six kilometres were replaced by bicycle trips, this would lead to a four percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from road traffic. A necessary way to go since carbon dioxide emissions from road transport in the EU have increased by 26 percent from 1990–2004. In the Netherlands, cycling can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport by six percent. If trips up to 7.5 kilometres distance were done by bicycle instead of the motor car, 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved, by which measure the Netherlands would have achieved one eighth of its commitment. The conditions for ecomobility differ from city to city, however. In wealthy German cities, over 80% of trips under three kilometres are made by non-motorized means, while in Surabaya, Indonesia, with less than one twentieth of the per capita income than German citizens enjoy, only 40% of trips in this range are made in a non motorized fashion. This is caused by the dangerous road and traffic conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and users of mobility aids such as wheelchairs. Improving road safety by, for example, dedicating space and lanes for non-motorized transport, is therefore key to the promotion of ecomobility. “Urban transport is the world's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions by a factor of two. Given that there remains a 20 to 25 year-long window of opportunity to slow the trajectory of emissions growth, a dollar spent on mitigation in urban transport immediately is worth two dollars spent elsewhere”, says Brian Williams, Chief of the Energy and Transport Section of United Nations Habitat. The Alliance’s key activity areas will be: •           Advocacy: Positioning ecomobility as a solution in the climate change debate, by advocating ecomobility at international policy fora and negotiations. •           Promotion: Raising awareness of the benefits of ecomobility through an ecomobility label as a distinction for city districts, public and private facilities, and the Cities Enjoy Bicycles Awards. •           Investment: Encouraging investment in ecomobility infrastructure, vehicles and mobility aids. •           Innovation: Building ecomobility systems in cities through product innovation and creative cooperation in cross-sector partnerships. The word “ecomobility” has been coined to promote walking, cycling, wheeling and ‘passenging’ as one idea, one word and one system.   For a copy of the official media release, please click here. To watch the launch press conference, please go to www.un.org/webcast/unfccc/2007/index.asp?go=05071215 and scroll down to ICLEI - Launch of the Global Alliance for EcoMobility. For more information on the Global Alliance, please visit www.ecomobility.org.