University of Plymouth spin-out devises recyclable COP26 travel card

A Plymouth-based company is supplying every COP26 delegate with a single card which will enable them to use public transport throughout the conference.

Smart Applications Management (SAM), a spinout company from the University of Plymouth, was commissioned by Transport Scotland to support, procure, test and implement the COP26 Travel Pass.

Working with Transport Scotland and supply chain partners, the team has developed a recyclable multi-modal and multi-operator smart card which will provide low carbon, low impact travel for up to 30,000 delegates from all over the world, and the COP 26 staff and volunteers.

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A UK first, the COP26 Travel Pass will seamlessly integrate access to all local rail, underground, tram, and bus services for the duration of the COP26 conference.

Developed around the ITSO specification, which assists with the standardisation of public transport ticketing in the United Kingdom, the smart cards will capture every delegate journey, regardless of which mode of transport or service operator they use.

This will ensure all operators are correctly reimbursed for the journeys taken, while saving carbon over car and taxi travel during the event.

The cards have been produced in the UK to minimise the carbon generated by freight mileage, and are fully recyclable, with delegates being encouraged to return their cards once the conference is over.

SAM was first established in 2010 to make sustainable transport access more accessible and streamlined for customers, and supports more than two million smart card holders across the UK.

Dr Andrew Seedhouse, chairman of SAM and director of transport at the University of Plymouth’s Sustainable Earth Institute

Dr Andrew Seedhouse, chairman of SAM and director of transport at the university’s Sustainable Earth Institute, said: “Providing a smart ticketing solution for COP26 has been a complex challenge for all partners. However, the measures we have put in place will eliminate the need for delegates to use cars and taxis while attending the conference.

“With reducing emissions and the push for net zero such an integral part of the agenda, this will enable delegates to practise what they preach and minimise their travel-based carbon footprint.”

COP26 is taking place in Glasgow until Saturday, November 12, and the smart card will only operate between those days. It forms part of an all-encompassing transport plan developed by the conference organisers which aims to deliver a safe, secure and resilient transport network to the event, with public transport and active travel at its core.

COP26 is the latest in a series of annual meetings, but this one is considered by many as the most significant yet, with a major United Nations scientific report warning that climate change is a “code red for humanity”.

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COP stands for “conference of the parties” and is an annual meeting of the 197 parties (mostly countries) who have signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an agreement aimed at “preventing dangerous human interference with the climate system”.

Glasgow is the 26th occurrence. The 2020 meeting was postponed due to the Covid pandemic. At this year’s event nations are expected to outline their plans for honouring pledges made five years ago relating to global warming. Agreement was reached at COP21 in Paris to limit global warming to below 2C and, preferably, to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels.

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William TelfordBusiness Editor, Plymouth Live