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Public transport must double in cities over next decade to meet 1.5°C target

news Press Release 10 Nov 2021

Public transport usage must double in global cities over the next decade, requiring $208 billion USD each year across C40 cities and creating 4.6m new jobs, show new figures from C40 Cities and ITF

Mayors, transport unions, workers and authorities warn global leaders ‘time is running out’ to make the critical investments in public transport necessary for nations and world to meet 1.5°C emissions targets 

From London to Jakarta, 9 out of 10 people want better, cheaper, faster zero-emissions public transport in their cities, new opinion polling in five major cities reveals 

COP26 Transport Day: 10 November 2021, Glasgow - Mayors of some of the world’s leading cities, union leaders, transport workers, transport authorities and civil society have united at COP26 to call on the world’s governments to prioritise sustainable long-term investment in public transport or risk climate breakdown. As electric vehicles are the focus on the COP26 transport day, mayors and union leaders warn public transport must not be forgotten. 

In a joint statement released today in Glasgow, mayors, unions, transport authorities, regulators and partners all call on national governments to collectively double public transport journeys in cities by 2030 and advance a just transition to zero-emissions public transport, if they are to meet their climate goals and limit global heating to 1.5°C. Transport is currently responsible for a quarter of all global CO2 emissions.

C40 and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have modelled this in new research across five major cities - Houston, Jakarta, Johannesburg, London and Milan - to demonstrate that as well as supporting the sustainable development of urban economies, the right investment would create tens of millions of jobs worldwide. This would be received with overwhelming public support, according to newly released opinion polling which shows 9 in 10 people want better, faster and more sustainable public transport in their cities. 

Mayor of London and Chair-elect of C40 Cities Sadiq Khan says: “London and other C40 cities are working closely together to lead public transport revolutions around the world.

"In London last month we expanded our Ultra Low Emission Zone, making it the largest in the world. We now have the largest zero emission bus fleet in Western Europe and a third of the UK’s EV charge points. We've also set an ambitious target for 80 per cent of all journeys in London to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041. 

"But Mayors and city leaders need support. National governments must prioritise funding for urban public transport expansion and renewal before time runs out to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avert a climate catastrophe."

John Mark Mwanika, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Urban Transport Chair says: “Amid all the discussions at COP26 on the topic of electric vehicles, we can’t afford to forget the critical role public transport must and can play in hitting climate targets. Increasing access to and availability of good quality public transport requires a fair and just transition. People who live and work in cities want better public transport, green jobs, and cleaner air. All levels of government must work together to unleash state funding over the next decade to achieve this, and to create tens of millions of decent jobs worldwide.”

The joint statement unveiled today in Glasgow by the Mayor of Austin Steve Adler; ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton; Secretary General of UITP Mohamed Mezghani and ITF Urban Transport Chair John Mark Mwanika among others, call on world leaders to ensure that:

  • Everyone living in urban areas has safe, frequent, affordable and accessible public transport within a 10 minute walk from their home 
  • Investment in public transport is made a priority for national economic recovery plans, and for increasing public transport mode share to be made a key goal in climate plans 
  • $208 billion a year is invested every year this decade to deliver the transformation to improve, expand and electrify public transport for the nearly 100 C40 cities that together contribute to 25% of the global economy. The current funds allocated for post COVID-19 public transport recovery are not sufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

C40 and ITF research released today also details interviews with workers, union and city officials in 19 cities across the world that underline the urgent need for increased public transport investment. Interviewees warned of the dangers posed by fragmented, short-term and opaque approaches to funding, and called for a coordinated, carefully planned investment.

Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan says: “Citizens in every major world city have the basic right to clean air, green jobs and accessible, frequent and affordable mass transportation within a 10 minute walk from their home. World leaders must work with mayors to unleash the investment and innovation cities urgently need to advance a just transition to zero-emissions public transport. Without a revolution in public transport the world will miss the bus on tackling climate change. Time is running out.”

Sharan Burrow - General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation says: “We’re in a race against time. Jobs and just transition will build the trust in communities to support the urgent transformation required to stabilise our climate and the global economy. Stable investment in public transport creates millions of climate friendly jobs worldwide and is critical for driving down emissions in our cities. Workers, unions and communities are calling on governments to put in place the investment into public transport to realise the jobs dividend that benefits both people and the planet.”

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities network says: “Cities from London to Jakarta are pioneering initiatives to increase access to improved public transport services. They have to, because people need an alternative to the car if cities are to rapidly reduce pollution from travel. In many cities public transport ridership needs to double in the next decade. Yet mass transit is currently suffering because of the pandemic. If national governments do not back mayors and invest to protect and expand public transport then they won’t be able to meet their own carbon targets. The time to invest in public transport is right now. Governments that do so will reap the rewards of millions of good jobs, improved fairness in access to mobility, and will lock-in reductions in transport emissions at the pace and scale we need.”


Notes to editors 

Photo and interview opportunity - 8:45AM, 10 November, Glasgow 

Mayors, deputy mayors, partners, union leaders and city officials will gather underneath 'the running clock' at 8.45am outside Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow G2 3NW. All media welcome for interviews with spokespeople. 

Attendees include Mayor of Austin Steve Adler; ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton; Secretary General of UITP Mohamed Mezghani; Chair of ITF Urban Transport Steering Committee John Mark Mwanika. 

Interviews available - to express interest or for more details please contact: 

Joint C40/ITF Statement  

Read the joint C40/ ITF statement here: We need to give everyone access to public transport if we’re going to stop the climate crisis. 

Full list of signatories

Mayor of London, C40 Chair-elect, Sadiq Khan; Governor of Jakarta, C40 Sustainable Mobility Vice Chair, Anies Baswedan; Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary; Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary; Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler; Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff; Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau; Mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López Hernández; Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu; Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Mayor of Milan, Beppe Sala; Mayor of Rio De Janeiro, Eduardo da Costa Paes; Mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon; Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed; Mayor of Stockholm, Anna König Jerlmyr; Mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai; Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart; Ellie Harrison, Bring Back British Rail Coordinator; Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary; Suzanne Jeffery, CACCTU Chair; Heather Thompson, ITDP Chief Executive Officer; Susan Galloway, Get Glasgow Moving Treasurer; Jennifer McCarey, Glasgow TUC Chair; Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary; Mohamed Mezghani, UITP Secretary General; Sally Roever, WIEGO International Coordinator 

C40/ITF Report: Making COP26 CountThe report launched today, Making COP26 Count: How investing in public transport this decade can protect our jobs, our climate, our future combines findings from fresh modelling and polling with new interviews conducted with transport workers, city and union officials around the world to provide key insights including:

  • Investing in line with climate goals in five cities alone could create over 650,000 new good-quality jobs in those cities. Moreover, for every job created in the city through investment in public transport, another job is created nationally outside of the city.
  • How both climate change and the pandemic are impacting public transport and the implications for approaches to investment.
  • Best practice to achieve reliable, coordinated, affordable public transport, in order to incentivise the necessary shift away from public transport. Plus the wider societal benefits - quality of life, social justice, public health and economic gains.
  • Huge public support for public transport investment around the world, alongside a call for public transport systems to be more accessible, affordable and widespread, to help workers connect to their jobs and to make society run better.

Interviews were conducted with transport workers, city and union officials in 19 cities around the world: Berlin, Cario, Cebu, Chicago, Delhi, Durban, Glasgow, Jaipur, Johannesburg, London, Lucknow, Manila, Milan, Mumbai, Nairobi, Phoenix, Seoul, Stockholm and Vancouver.

Jobs potential research took place in London, Jakarta, Milan, Houston and Johannesburg

Opinion polling was undertaken by ClearPath Strategies on behalf of C40 in Phoenix, London, Milan, Johannesburg and Jakarta.