Decarbonising transport is crucial, but it is key to involve citizens in the debate about how to achieve that, Friends of Europe’s 21 September debate heard. The debate also covered ways in which citizens can contribute to climate action – such as taking a pledge for the European Climate Pact.
Huge changes need to happen because of climate change, said Yvon Slingenberg, Acting Director for Climate Strategy at the Directorate-General for Climate Action. These will affect everyone’s lives and so we have to talk to citizens, she stressed.
Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw, explained how the Polish capital, the only city in the country with a target to be climate neutral by 2050, brings inhabitants into the decision-making process through surveys, consultations and citizen panels.
But he stressed that education and awareness are also vital so that citizens are aware why changes must be made. It is often better to make changes to provide examples of how they will improve quality of life before the consultation, to enable residents to see the measures in action, he added.
Debrecen’s László Mátyus agreed, saying that it is hard for people to understand the benefits of particular initiatives without seeing them in action. “It’s much easier to get reaction on measures you have already introduced,” he pointed out.
Creating awareness is important, said Janet Veldstra, Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Groningen, but it is not enough. “It’s about encouraging people to choose behaviour that benefits them and the planet.” It is also important to highlight that doing nothing is not an option because it has costs as well.
Willing to help reduce carbon emissions? Make your pledge today to fly less, cycle and walk more, drive an electric car or take the train and other public transport here
As the EU moves to phase out petrol and diesel cars from 2035 on, it’s time to start thinking about what will replace them. The way we move influences our lives profoundly, and citizens should be part of designing the sustainable transport systems of the future.
This online debate examines what we need to get right to move towards climate-neutral and accessible transport. A group of policymakers, key experts in the field and Climate Pact Ambassadors will share their views and engage in an open discussion with the audience.
This event is organised as part of the European Climate Pact. The European Climate Pact is a movement of people united around a common cause, each taking steps to build a more sustainable Europe for us all. Launched by the European Commission, the Climate Pact is part of the European Green Deal and is helping the EU to meet its goal to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.
During the lockdowns, car was no longer king, citizens reclaimed public spaces and clear skies were the norm. Policymakers should grab that momentum to futureproof transport systems now that the world is opening up again. The challenge is vast – transport is responsible for 27% of EU emissions, is the main cause of air pollution in cities and impacts social equality and economic development. As such, transport is a big piece of the puzzle in the EU’s aim to be climate neutral by mid-century.
City after city is banning diesel cars from the centre, and industry and policymakers alike are moving away from the internal combustion engine. The transformation of transport has a profound effect on daily life, and citizens shouldn’t have to carry the brunt of the burden. As the European Commission comes out with a range of proposals to introduce the sustainable transport of the future, this debate asks how citizens can be the starting point.
- What must be done to ensure that the cost of transforming the transport system doesn’t fall on the shoulders of citizens?
- How can city planners and citizens work in tandem to design the sustainable transport of the future?
- What policies are required to make climate-neutral transport affordable and accessible to everyone?
- Policymakers count on behaviour change to transform our transport systems. Are citizens open to this?
Head of Partnerships at CitizenLab
Director of Innovation and Service Development at the Public Transport Company of Debrecen, DKV Debreceni Közlekedési Zrt
Acting Director for Climate Strategy, Governance, and Emissions from Non-trading Sectors at the European Commission Directorate-General for Climate Action
Mayor of Warsaw and European Climate Pact Ambassador in Poland
Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Groningen
Alexandra Chandran leads the partnerships work at CitizenLab, growing the online community engagement platform’s mission and impact with a variety of partners across different countries and organisations. She is currently working with and supporting in-country partners in Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Mexico, Poland and Serbia. With these partners, Chandran is building a network of citizen participation experts who can develop the impactful use of CitizenLab in their country market. Chandran previously worked for the Open Data Institute, leading business development and securing opportunities across public and private sectors to positively influence data policy and decision-making.
László Mátyus believes that involving the community when introducing innovative solutions is vital. He has led and participated in many smart city projects in Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city, as part of his work for the non-profit organisation EDC Debrecen, which aims to improve the quality of life in the city. Examples of his projects include the introduction of the country’s first smart crosswalk, e-ticketing system in public transport and Smart City Strategy, as well as DebrecenMob – a challenge encouraging citizens to use active and sustainable transport modes. Before joining EDC Debrecen, Mátyus spent seven years working in the media industry.
Yvon Slingenberg has extensively worked on EU climate action. She served as Senior Adviser to EU Commissioner Arias Cañete for Climate Action and Energy, where she was in charge of issues related to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), effort sharing and land-use, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources. Slingenberg has been actively involved in the ETS reform, and the role of the ETS in the 2030 climate and energy policy framework. Slingenberg’s work also covered the negotiations on the 2020 climate and energy package, and steered the adoption of numerous implementing measures necessary to enable the harmonised approach of the revised ETS.
Rafał Trzaskowski currently serves as the Mayor of Warsaw. In this capacity, Trzaskowski signed the Pact of Free Cities in December 2019 and distinguished himself by his pledge to the defence of LGBTQ rights. As Climate Pact Ambassador, he is highly committed in turning Warsaw into a fully sustainable city and boosting civic participation to ensure that the path towards the city’s climate neutrality is inclusive and socially fair. Trzaskowski previously served as a Minister of Administration and Digitization as well as Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and ran as the Civic Platform party’s candidate in the former Polish presidential election.
Janet Veldstra is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Groningen. In her research, she focuses on factors influencing mobility behaviour. Veldstra is particularly interested in individual and contextual factors influencing sustainable mobility behaviour, as well as acceptance and adoption of new mobility innovations, such as automated vehicles.
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