The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), on 21 February, launched a large-scale joint advertising campaign to encourage more individuals to take public transport.
With road transport accounting for 21% of European carbon dioxide emissions, the two organisations underlined the important role that motorists can play in reducing our negative impact on the environment and combating climate change.
"We want to make them aware that their transport choices can make a difference in the fight against climate change. We want to empower them to make the right decision," said UITP Secretary General Hans Rat at UNEP's Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
50% of all urban trips are under five kilometres and could easily be replaced by walking, cycling or public transport, the association claims. Promoting less car-dependent lifestyles is also a key aim of the European Commission's Green Paper on Urban Mobility (EurActiv 26/09/07).
Detailed actions, including measures to make alternatives to car use (walking, cycling, public transport, scooters and motorbikes) safer and more attractive and to encourage car-pooling solutions or increased 'virtual mobility' – such as tele-working and tele-shopping – are due to be presented this October.
The proposals could also include measures to encourage towns and cities to implement urban charging schemes, such as those in place in London and Stockholm, where drivers are required to pay daily fees in order to discourage them from congesting and polluting the city centres.
A key challenge for public authorities will be also be to influence consumer behaviour, as the car remains by far the most popular mode of transport due to its various advantages, such as comfort, status, speed and convenience.
Impacting on consumers' choice will be the key aim of the UNEP-UITP advertisement, which will be aired on all major television channels around the world.