December 14, 2017

Transportation is the second biggest global emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), yet the logistics sector is often left out of the climate conversation. The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23), a major annual forum for climate policy dialogue, recently moved transportation into the spotlight, paving the way for more proactive emissions reductions measures.

Suzanne Greene, manager of the MIT Sustainable Logistics Initiative (SLI), a new initiative from the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, participated in the COP23, the first CTL representative to join the internation event.

COP23 was considered a “technical COP,” establishing how the Paris Accords will be implemented by countries and industry starting in 2020.1 While 2020 is the line in the sand by policy standards, all actions are driving towards the massive reduction in GHG emissions needed to meet 2050 targets; at the minimum, keeping global temperatures less than 2.0°C above the levels experienced during pre-industrial times, with proactive measures to keep temperatures under 1.5°C.

The Paris Accords rely on each country to put forth emissions reduction targets, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), in order to meet 2050 goals. However, transport-specific targets related to passenger transportation are included in 43% of NDCs, and freight transportation is left out of all by 13% of NDCs.2International modes of transportion, such as maritime and aviation, slip between the cracks and are left out by most countries.3

COP23 represents a significant step towards reversing this trend. The first ever Transportation Day took place at the November event, which drew much needed attention to the intersection between domestic and international policy and industry efforts.

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