Lagos, Nigeria, is the sixth largest city in the world. It is also the fastest growing and one of the most congested in the world. Commuting for Lagosians can be a serious challenge. Until recently, transport options to get to work were either small minibuses (the danfos) or larger minibuses (molues). Traffic was bad and transport expensive.
With funding from the World Bank and the Agence Française de Développement, the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) designed and created the first bus-based mass transit system (BRT) in Africa. It aimed both to enhance transport efficiency in the city and to reduce transport emission. Successful beyond expectation, the BRT system has moved in the last five years of operations more than 400 million passengers. According to LAMATA, reduction in transport related greenhouse gas emissions was measured to be around 13% in project areas – due to the use of the buses and reduce trips of private cars. And a reduction of 20% in road accidents was also observed in those areas.
The transport-climate equation
Catering to an increasing demand for transport services is a challenge that both developed and developing countries face. At the same time, transport represents 23% of energy related CO2 emissions and is therefore a significant contributor to climate change. A further complication to the transport-climate equation is that transport systems that cannot withstand the emerging impacts of climate change will prove burdensome. They will impose high costs for maintenance and repair; limit community access to jobs, schools, and hospitals; and cause large economic losses. Ensuring the climate resilience of transport investments is also critical in allowing other sectors to quickly rebound after natural disasters and climate-related shocks.
The other side of the equation however, as illustrated by the Lagos BRT example, is that climate-friendly transport solutions are also those that serve the poorest and most vulnerable members of the community, because they are less expensive and often provide better access than other means. Women, for example, are less likely to own and use a car and more likely to use walk or use public transportation as their main mode of transport. By removing cars or minibuses from the roads, BRTs, metros and trains also improve road safety. And importantly, while today’s investments in sustainable transport will pay economic, social and climate dividends now and for future generations, the reverse is true: investments now in carbon-heavy transport will lock-in countries and cities on unsustainable development paths.
MDBs stand ready to support COP21 transport commitments
This message has not gone unheeded. Ahead of COP21, a significant number of governments are committing, through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, to invest further in climate-friendly transport. Benin, for example, has pledged as part of its INDC to improve traffic flow in large cities, to develop a river-lagoon transport system with navigable rivers, and to modernize and extend its rail infrastructure. Bangladesh has identified as potential mitigation action modal shift from road to rail, including through metro systems and bus rapid transport systems in urban areas. Bangladesh also mentioned reducing traffic congestion, including by building expressways and with public transport measures.