Victory as “Sustainable Transport” is added to COP26 declaration!

People with bikes line the road towards the COP26 conference. Photo: Iona Shepherd

Early on Wednesday morning, hundreds of cycling activists, campaigners and residents of Glasgow marked ‘Transport Day’ at COP26, and joined GoBike to form a line of people with bikes stretching along the River Clyde to the conference. People of all ages stood peacefully along the side of the road asking that active travel is recognised at the conference as a part of the solution to the climate crisis.

Passers by were greeted to the sound of bike bells ringing as they walked along the riverside. Delegates stopped to take photos and ask protesters why they were there, which was exactly what we had hoped for.

This action followed the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice march on the Saturday where thousands of people with bikes joined Pedal on Parliament’s “Pedal on COP” Cycling and Sustainable Transport bloc in the record breaking turnout.

Cycling and Sustainable Transport Bloc at the climate march. Photo: Ryan Bharaj

GoBike also added their signature along with more than 300 other cycling organisations, to a letter from the European Cyclists Federation, demanding a commitment to more cycling from world leaders.

Cycling and Sustainable Transport Bloc at the climate march. Photo: Neil Lovelock

And just last night, on Thursday 11th November we received confirmation that sustainable transport has now been added to the COP26 declaration. It’s a short sentence, but one that one that will be significant for future agreements on active travel. A small step, but a win nevertheless, and a move forward that would have been absent if it hadn’t have been for our efforts.

The press we had was incredible and definitely helped to get the message out.

Cycling commuter Victoria, joining in the Transport Day demo as part of her daily cycle commute with her two kids (9 & 11) said “We wanted to join in today to support GoBike with their message to COP26 delegates. Safe active travel for everyone, young and old, needs to be a realistic option for more people, and the politicians making the decisions are the ones who need to make that a reality.”

Another cyclist, Emily, joining the protest on the way to drop her two children at school, said, “Buying a cargo bike in order to live car-free has been the most satisfying and joyful thing our family has done to limit our own environmental impact. Why isn’t active travel a core focus of today’s discussions at COP26? This machine fights climate change!”

Protest organiser Iona, GoBike’s campaigns lead said “Today is ‘Transport Day’ at COP26 and active travel is not even on the table for discussions at the Blue Zone. At the conference electric cars are taking centre stage, while our sustainable form of transport – by far the cheapest and easiest way to cut emissions from transport – doesn’t even get a mention.”

She said “Transport is now the UK’s biggest contributor to climate change, yet nearly half of all journeys by car in Scotland are less than two miles. These are journeys that for many people could be swapped out for walking or cycling, if the conditions were made safer and more attractive. Meanwhile, the UK government are cutting the cost of car ownership. We need the COP to force through better investment and political will for sustainable transport modes if they are serious about the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Convenor of GoBike Thomas Cornwallis said “After a long campaign and a lot of volunteer work to bring a petition to the council to make sure cycling was accessible, safe, and direct for people of the city and delegates during COP26, it was very disappointing to see how poorly the cycling diversion route was handled with signage taking over two weeks to appear, and with no accessible way to pass barriers. If cycling is to help us with the climate crisis, it needs attention and not left on the side.”

We – and you – were a big part of getting active travel finally recognised as a solution to the climate crisis at the historic COP26, and we thank everyone for their collective action on this. Thank you thank you thank you!