‘World needs much more cycling’ to combat climate change, say advocates

‘World needs much more cycling’ to combat climate change, say advocates
Bicycles parked in Antwerp. Photo by Helen Lyons/ The Brussels Times

The world needs much more cycling in order to combat climate change and reach global targets for CO2 emissions reduction, according to an open letter signed by cycling advocacy groups from countries across the world.

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and over 60 pro-cycling organisations published the letter ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, calling on governments attending to commit to significantly increasing the number of people who cycle in their countries in order to reach global climate goals quickly and effectively.

“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,” the letter says.

There are 117 organisations from across the world backing the message, including Belgium’s Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens (GRACQ) and Fietserbond.

They say that 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, yet COP26 Transport Day on 10 November will focus exclusively on the electrification of road vehicles as a solution to climate issues.

“Cycling should be a cornerstone of global, national and local strategies to meet net-zero carbon targets,” Henk Swarttouw, ECF President, said in a statement.

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Bicycle use produces zero emissions, and the EFC says it also delivers far-reaching positive societal impacts and 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,” they argue. “We must urgently leverage the solutions that cycling offers by radically scaling up its use.”

The letter was sent to governments and transport ministers ahead of COP26.

“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,” said Jill Warren, CEO of the ECF.

“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.”

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is the world’s largest cyclists’ advocacy organisation, with over 60 member organisations across more than 40 countries.

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