While we wait for the miracle that will solve the transport sector’s carbon footprint, transport experts agree that by implementing a combination of existing measures real progress can be made in the fight against global warming.
During the annual session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Inland Transport Committee (ITC), delegates recognized that better infrastructure planning; efficient border-crossing and transit procedures; technologically progressive vehicle construction norms and a greater role for environmentally friendly modes such as rail and inland navigation are all necessary steps to improve current and future transportation systems in the pan-European region.
The 72nd annual session of the ITC (23-25 February 2010) gathered high-level officials from the 56 UNECE member States, the European Union, international and European transport organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Transport on inland waterways was in particular focus this year as the session included a roundtable dedicated to inland navigation which has the potential to relieve congested roads and provide better value for money, with less pollution. Participants representing the industry emphasized the need for strategic investment and regulatory reforms and integration of the very fragmented market to unlock the potential economic and environmental benefits of inland water transport.
Discussions on another key transport mode, namely rail, were kicked off by an address from Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways. In his speech, Mr. Yakunin outlined how his company plans to develop efficient rail transport corridors between Europe and Asia. According to Mr. Yakunin, "the basis of transit flows in the near future should be the transportation of containerized cargo on key international transport corridors, primarily in the transcontinental direction East-West, based on the Trans-Siberian railway". The Russian Railways is committed to reducing transit time through Russia along this corridor from 11 to 7 days.
When it comes to road transport, the UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations develops regulations which contribute to reducing gaseous emissions and improve the safety of motor vehicles. The ITC was informed that the World Forum will start developing a new global technical regulation on emissions of pollutants, as well as CO2 emissions.
Another key aspect of the road industry is the issue of driving and rest times of professional drivers which is regulated by the European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport (AETR). The deadline to implement the digital tachograph by 16 June 2010 still poses major challenges to several Contracting Parties. A special ad-hoc group met therefore on 26 February 2010 to take stock of the level of preparedness and seek practical solutions.
Some of the other issues addressed at the 72nd session of the Committee include inland transport security; developing Euro-Asian transport links; road traffic safety; transport of dangerous goods and operational assistance to countries with economies in transition.
For more information, contact Michalis Adamantiadis on +41(0)22 917 24 01 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Reference document: ECE/TRANS/10/P02
Note to editors
The Inland Transport Committee is the highest political body of the UNECE in the field of transport. Together with its subsidiary bodies, it has provided a pan-European intergovernmental forum over the last 60 years, where UNECE member countries negotiate the international legal instruments on inland transport. These legal instruments are considered indispensable for developing efficient, safe and sustainable pan-European and Euro-Asian transport systems.
For additional information on the agenda of the session and background documentation, please visit http://www.unece.org/trans/main/itc/itc.html
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