Cyclist.ie and ECF call on governments at COP26 to boost cycling levels to reduce carbon emissions and reach climate goals quickly and effectively
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and a global coalition of 80 pro-cycling organisations, including Irish member Cyclist.ie have issued an open letter calling on governments attending COP26 in Glasgow to commit to significantly increasing the number of people who cycle in their countries in order to reach global climate goals quickly and effectively.
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The world needs much more cycling if we are to combat climate change. Without quicker and more determined action by governments worldwide to cut transport carbon emissions, we will be dooming present and future generations to a world that is more hostile and much less inhabitable. Frans Timmermans, the Director of the EU Green Deal, says that ‘the bicycle is the most important instrument in meeting climate change targets’.
CO₂ emissions from the transport sector continue to increase. Meanwhile, the transition to zero-emission cars and trucks will take decades to complete and will not solve other problems like traffic congestion and sedentary lifestyles. Despite this, COP26 Transport Day on 10 November is set to focus exclusively on the electrification of road vehicles as a solution to the climate crisis we are facing today. This proposal is too narrow focussed and will only lead to further road congestion, and continued inappropriate travel methods, without addressing real societal health issues. The Bicycle, and in particular the Electric Bicycle, has a major part to play.
ECF and its allies believe cycling represents one of humanity’s greatest hopes for a shift towards a zero-carbon future. Bicycle use produces zero emissions, delivers wide ranging positive societal impacts and – most importantly – is a technology that is already widely available today. The world cannot afford to wait decades for fossil-fuel cars to be fully phased out and replaced by electric vehicles. We must urgently leverage the solutions that cycling offers by radically scaling up its use, including the potential that electric bicycles offer to extend journey lengths, and support lifetime cycling.
The signatories to this open letter call on governments and leaders, including the Irish Government, attending COP26 to declare commitments to significantly boost cycling levels at home and collectively commit to achieving a global target of higher cycling levels. The letter was sent to governments and transport ministers ahead of COP26.
Colm Ryder, Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network: ‘Cycling development is a vital key to unlocking the transport potential of our island, and to tackling climate change. Irish citizens must be given a real transport choice through the provision of a countrywide network of safe and segregated infrastructure.
Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation: “There is no conceivable way for governments to reduce CO₂ emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst of the climate crisis without significantly more cycling. The devastating effects of accelerating global warming should be clear to everyone, and boosting cycling levels is the best way to quickly cut carbon emissions from transport on a massive scale.”
Henk Swarttouw, President of European Cyclists’ Federation and of the World Cycling Alliance: “Cycling should be a cornerstone of global, national and local strategies to meet net-zero carbon targets. At COP26, governments must commit to providing the financing and legislation for safe and equitable space for cycling everywhere."
About the European Cyclists’ Federation: With over 60 member organisations across more than 40 countries, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is the world’s largest and best-known cyclists’ advocacy organisation. Our aim is to improve and increase cycling by influencing policy and harnessing the power of the European cycling movements.