Global alarm set off due to cycling’s exclusion from COP26

Believe it or not, it’s taking a guerrilla marketing effort to get cycling on the radar of COP26 attendees and followers.

Cycling is the single most important way world leaders can make their transportation systems cleaner and more humane, yet numerous reports from the global climate change conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland say that it’s been left off the agenda.

This massive oversight has spurred many of the world’s leading cycling advocacy organizations to join forces at and sign onto a letter that pleads with world leaders to use cycling to reach their emissions goals.

Here are excerpts from the letter:

The world needs much more cycling if we are to combat climate change…

This is why we, the undersigned 80 organisations, strongly appeal to all governments and leaders attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow to commit to significantly increasing the number of people who cycle in their countries. Governments can do this by building more high-quality cycling infrastructure, integrating cycling with public transport, improving road safety and implementing policies that encourage people and businesses to replace automobile trips with bicycle trips and other modes like walking and public transport. Promoting and enabling active mobility must be a cornerstone of global, national and local strategies to meet net-zero carbon targets.


Worldwide, transportation is responsible for 24% of direct CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles account for nearly three quarters of transport CO₂ emissions, and these numbers are not decreasing. Aside from the unsustainable levels of CO₂ emissions that are ruining Earth’s climate, road vehicles are polluting our air at unprecedented levels, killing an estimated seven million people worldwide every year.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Global Warming of 1.5 °C” special report has identified cycling as a pathway to ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future. Bicycle use produces zero emissions and cycling delivers far-reaching positive socioeconomic impacts in addition to reduced pollution.

Cycling represents one of humanity’s greatest hopes for a shift towards a zero-carbon future. 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. Building synergies with other travel modes such as public transport can critically enhance this potential…

There is no conceivable way or governments to reduce CO₂ emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst of the climate crisis without significantly more cycling. Cycling is one of the best solutions we already have to ensure our planet is habitable for all generations to come.

Forbes reporter and longtime bike industry commentator Carlton Reid expressed his shock at the exclusion of cycling at the event when he arrived yesterday:

Cycling is easy to leave out of the party because it doesn’t have the powerful lobbying force of the oil and auto industries. It’s often said that cycling is too cheap and easy for its own good. It also suffers from many false narratives because it doesn’t have the benefit of a massive media propaganda campaign like the one that props up car culture. But if governments want to move the needle on transportation emissions, cycling must be a larger part of the mix.

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