The Climate Train

Journey by Train and Boat from Europe to the UN climate negotiations (COP3) in Kyoto, Japan

SGR's main activity during 1997 and 1998 was to co-ordinate and take part in 'The Climate Train' whereby 36 scientists and environmentalists travelled to the Kyoto Climate Conference (COP3) in Japan in December 1997 by train, boat and bicycle. SGR produced a report (written by Ben Matthews and Michelle Valentine) about the journey and the issues surrounding it, published in 1998. (The 70 page report can be purchased from SGR.)

There were four reasons for the Climate Train:

1. To get to the Kyoto Conference using methods which minimised any impact on the climate;
2. To allow meetings with local scientists en route to take place to raise awareness of the climate change issue;
3. To make a statement about the need to make changes in lifestyles in order to tackle climate change.
4. To raise awareness through the global media about the need to make changes in our life-styles in order to tackle climate change effectively.

Travelling by train and boat between Europe and Japan caused approximately 1/8 of the global warming impact of flying (full calculations are given in the report).

A number of conferences were held during the journey: in Moscow; Novosibirsk (in Siberia); and Beijing. The one in Novosibirsk was particularly well attended (including local politicians and children) and reported in the media. It led to the setting up of Siberian Scientists for Global Responsibility (SSGR). It also gave the Climate Train participants a chance to witness at first hand some of the changes taking place in Siberia which are believed to be due to climate change, including large-scale fires in the peat tundra as the permafrost begins to melt. The emphasis of the Beijing conference was on the effect of climate change on agriculture.

Once at the Kyoto Conference, one of  The Climate Train participants, Michelle Valentine, delivered a statement to the Main Assembly, which was an honour few other non-governmental organisations were allowed. The full text of the statement is given in the published report, but its main thrust was the importance of making life-style changes to reduce greenhouse gas in, particularly, Western countries.

SGR and its collaborators managed to raise $100,000 in funding which covered the project's expenses. SGR has estimated that a further $50,000 was donated in time and effort by individuals and organisations involved in the project. SGR made no money out of the project.

We have little doubt that the project was a big success, greatly contributing to awareness of the issue and the sort of action that needs to be taken to address it. We believe that The Climate Train attracted more publicity than any other pressure group's campaign (including being the lead story on Channel 4 news on the opening day of the Kyoto Conference), and SGR's role as main co-ordinator of the project raised our national and international profile considerably.

More information on the Climate Train project can be downloaded from: