COP26

Open letter to COP26: The world needs much more cycling

The European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) a global coalition of over 80 pro-cycling organisations have published an open letter calling on governments attending COP26 in Glasgow to commit to increasing the number of people who cycle in their countries to reach global climate goals.

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.

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.

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 far-reaching 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.

New research shows that life-cycle CO₂ emissions drop by 14% per additional cycling trip and by 62% for each avoided car trip. Switching from a car to a bicycle saves 150g of CO₂ per kilometre. E-cargo bikes cut carbon emissions by 90% compared with diesel vans. Swapping the car in cities for walking and cycling even just one day a week can reduce your carbon footprint by about half a tonne of CO₂ over a year.

The signatories to the open letter call on governments and leaders 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.

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 the European Cyclists’ Federation: “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. Citizens are ready for the change; now our leaders need to enable it.”

Read the open letter to governments at COP26: www.COP26cycling.com