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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

14 July 2023

Excellency Ms. Ann Shikany, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Transportation of the United States,

Excellency Dr. Chayatan Phromsorn, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of Thailand,

Distinguished delegates, participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this side event on the nexus of energy, urban planning and transport in Asia and the Pacific.

I hope this event will highlight opportunities for future collaboration between ESCAP and all our member States in the Asia-Pacific region to accelerate climate action through transport, energy and urban planning measures.

The transport sector plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions in Asia and the Pacific. The region is projected to grow significantly and rapidly in terms of population size, economic development, urbanization rate and motorization level.

As a result, without changes in transport policies, carbon emissions from the transport sector could increase by up to 50 per cent by 2050.

The region already accounts for 27 per cent of total transport sector carbon emissions and is not on track to meet the net-zero decarbonization target as called for in the Paris Agreement.

In fact, even if all mitigation commitments to decarbonize transport were fully implemented, global carbon emissions from transport would still increase by 16 per cent by 2050.

Without swift and decisive action, achieving Sustainable Development Goals 7 on affordable and clean energy and 11 on sustainable cities and communities will become impossible.

This challenge also calls for urgent action beyond the transport sector. Hence, in addition to exploring how to set transport on a low-carbon pathway, we will also consider how urban planning and energy generation, distribution and consumption need to walk in lockstep with transport development. 

We also need to look at transport through the energy lens. In 2020, transport consumed 18 per cent of the region’s energy and contributed significantly to climate change.

The rapid growth of transport and the reliance of transport technology on fossil fuels is a major challenge as we move towards net zero by mid-century. Solutions are urgently required to enhance the efficiency of transportat and  increase the level of renewable energy use.

Rapid urbanization is also driving energy and transport demand across our region. With urban populations expected to increase by more than 1 billion people by 2050, it is essential that our urban centres lead the transition towards decarbonization. 

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

The only way we can achieve a sustainable urban future — and realize our climate and clean air goals — is to ensure that cities prioritize mobility, public transport, renewable energy and nature-based solutions within integrated urban planning that focuses on liveability.  

At ESCAP, we have launched initiatives to build the capacities of local authorities to develop innovative urban solutions, with urban planning as a foundation for other efforts.

The first initiative is the Regional Cooperation Mechanism on Low Carbon Transport to promote low carbon transport, including a shift to electric mobility and clean energy technologies.

The second is the Asia-Pacific Initiative on Electric Mobility, in which case studies on electric mobility and a set of regional policy guidelines have been developed.

We aim to deepen regional collaboration to promote low carbon transport through these two initiatives and to identify common interests and policy priorities.

All subregional workshops under these initiatives have considered the outcomes of COP27 within the context of the unique challenges, constraints and priorities of our member States while preparing for COP28 later this year.

Prior to COP28, we will also conduct a regional meeting to present the key findings from the subregional consultations and identify core areas of collaboration.

I urge all ESCAP member States to connect with us and help shape the framework of the Regional Cooperation Mechanism on Low Carbon Transport moving forward. 

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

Despite growing transport demand and carbon dioxide emissions, the Asia-Pacific region has the potential to achieve economies of scale for emerging low carbon transport technologies and systems.

Stronger collaboration in the region can therefore accelerate climate action as countries start to implement the Paris Agreement at the national and local levels. 

I hope that this side event will serve as a platform for stakeholder engagement and the sharing of best practices from the energy, urban planning and transport sectors. This will strengthen regional dialogues and speed up the transition to low carbon transport.

I would like to thank the speakers for their contributions, and I wish you a very productive discussion.

Thank you.

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