Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Transport Policy

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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26. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is concerned that carbon emissions from transport increased last year; and the measures he intends to take to address this. [28463/24]

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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150. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his response to the Climate Change Advisory Council finding that emissions related to the transport sector rose slightly last year, driven by a rise in demand for petrol and diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28608/24]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 150 together.

Yes. I am of course concerned that transport emissions continue to rise. This sector was always going to be the hardest one to reduce emissions given that it is so closely linked to population and economic growth and decades of dispersed settlement patterns that favour the car. As evidenced in recent reports from the likes of the European Transport and Environment Group, transport emissions continue to grow in Europe and internationally. I also welcome the recent publication of the Climate Change Advisory Council’s annual sectoral review of the transport sector.

While Government has provided an unprecedented level of investment in sustainable transport and EV supports over recent years, I accept the Council’s assessment that further measures are required if we are to achieve our 2030 climate objectives.

The Advisory Council have estimated that emissions from the transport sector increased by an estimated 0.2% in 2023. Updated provisional emissions inventories for 2023 are expected from the Environmental Protection Agency in coming weeks, which I expect will confirm that we have expended 64% of our first sectoral carbon budget over the first three years of the programme (2021-2023). While this is disappointing, I also recognise that transport is probably the most difficult sector of all to decarbonise in the short-to-medium term.

I note that the Council’s recommendations, that both planning and taxation reform are fundamental to our ability to accelerate our decarbonisation efforts, strongly echo the whole-of-Government approach we have set out in our draft Moving Together: A Strategic Approach to the Improved Efficiency of the Transport System in Ireland demand management strategy, which seeks to make our transport systems work better for everyone.

The Council’s review clearly recognises that spatial planning and transport systems are fundamentally linked, with deeply embedded travel preferences and overall levels of transport demand resulting from choices with regard to settlement patterns and planning policy.

Compliance with our legally binding sectoral emission ceilings in the transport sector will not be possible unless projected future growth in transport demand is primarily serviced via sustainable modes and zero-emission alternatives, in accordance with the ‘Avoid-Shift-Improve’ framework for greater transport sustainability that we have established in the transport chapter of the Climate Action Plan, our National Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP), and our draft Moving Together strategy.

The draft Moving Together strategy’s Implementation Plan, which has been published alongside the draft strategy, will seek to strengthen the policy alignment and implementation mechanisms to deliver our National Planning Framework’s National Strategic Objectives of ‘Compact Growth’ (NSO1) and ‘Sustainable Mobility’ (NSO4) given the critical role of compact growth in reducing travel demand and in enhancing transport system efficiencies.

Doing so will help to reduce congestion and improve journey times for car drivers, public transport users, business and freight, leading to improvements in local air quality and reduced stress, with associated health benefits for drivers and non-drivers alike.

The draft Moving Together strategy and its accompanying implementation plan were published in April 2024 for public consultation, with a view to being finalised later this year. However, over coming weeks and months, we will continue to take account of the Council’s recommendations by working across Government to

  • strengthen our transport and spatial planning alignment through the imminent update of the National Planning Framework;
  • seek to accelerate the planning consenting processes for critical transport infrastructure, in line with measures outlined in the Planning and Development Bill;
  • empower our local authorities in their ability to implement further local demand management measures by finalising our Moving Together strategy;
  • accelerate the roll out of EV recharging infrastructure and taxation incentives for fleets to further generate and support an affordable second-hand EV market;
  • strengthen and build on the key AVOID-SHIFT-IMPROVE framework for greater transport sustainability that we have set out in Climate Action Plan 2024, and
  • seek to identify further corrective actions for inclusion in future updates to the Climate Action Plan.
I am confident that the tide is turning in relation to transport emissions and that early and effective implementation of our policies and strategies will deliver the required reductions over time and in a just and equitable manner.

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