Eamon Ryan, Minister for Transport, has welcomed the publication of the Climate Change Advisory Council and OECD’s “Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero: Towards Systems that Work for People and the Planet”report on the Irish transport system saying that it both supports and challenges the Government’s transport policy ambitions.
The report highlights that current Irish transport systems foster growing car use and emissions by design. It states that like many other OECD countries, Ireland, over decades, has seen car-dependency and car culture as an unavoidable consequence of progress. As a result, our road space, towns and cities have developed largely to facilitate cars to pass through, with a focus on mobility – that is getting from a to b as fast as possible - rather than prioritising easy and healthy accessibility to work, schools or town centres. The report also finds that Ireland could “unleash enormous opportunities” by prioritising policies with what it calls “high transformative potential”, such as reallocating road space to ensure that walking and cycling are accommodated and are attractive for people, by making on-demand shared services like public transport or rental bike or e-scooter systems more mainstream across the country, and developing communications strategies that will begin to change engrained mind-sets around car use.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Ryan outlined that he would be launching the chosen ‘Pathfinder Projects’ over the coming weeks. Over the past summer, the Minister called every local authority in the country and asked them to identify priority public transport and active travel projects which would have the greatest impact on the people in their areas. He said that these final Pathfinder Projects would bring to life the type of highly transformative measures identified in the CCAC/OECD report.
“Over the next few weeks, we will be announcing the final assessed Pathfinder Projects for towns, cities and townlands from Donegal to Kerry,” he said. “These projects will be delivered in the next two to three years and will begin to demonstrate practically, by people using them, that we can use our road space differently, we can re-imagine our towns and cities, we can begin to shift our focus from the car to other more sustainable transport systems.”
“The report’s findings on what are the most impactful and transformative measures, which will also increase people’s wellbeing, strongly reflect and support what we are seeking to deliver overall through our Sustainable Mobility Policy, the work of our Leadership Group and this ‘Pathfinder Programme’.
“The scale of the challenge we face in decarbonising transport, as highlighted in this report, will not be easy and will require a truly transformative level of behavioural and systems change over years. The perspective in this report is rightly on making changes now that will deliver a net zero future for transport to 2050. The longer-term focus should be on reducing demand and systemic changes that address car dependence. I would also reinforce, however, the need to continue our focus on electrification of our passenger and public transport fleet, as set out in our Climate Action Plan, as an appropriate measure for the medium term to 2030.”
He said that the report’s findings will continue to inform both the Department’s public engagement activity, and the measures to be implemented over the coming period.
Notes to the Editor
Key findings of report
- Irish transport system fosters growing car use and emissions by design and is thus unfit to allow the country to meet its ambitious GHG goals while improving people’s well-being and ensuring a just transition.
- Decarbonising the system via (mainly private) vehicle improvements (i.e. transition to EVs) is unlikely to lead to substantially different patterns of behaviours than those observed today.
- Ireland could unleash enormous opportunities by prioritizing policies with high transformative potential – road space reallocation, mainstreaming of on-demand shared services, and communication strategies questioning engrained mind-sets around car use.
- The report also finds that measures to reduce car dependence can greatly enhance wellbeing, improving access to services for both urban and rural isolated communities, improving health and road safety, while also benefiting the environment.
Key recommendations of report
- Road space reallocation, on-demand shared services, such as ‘dial a ride’ shuttle buses or rental bikes and e-bikes, and better communication of the required changes and their benefits have great transformative potential and need to be scaled up with increased commitment of financial resources by the government
- Transformation is possible but will look different in urban and rural areas. Input from local communities on the reallocation of road space is required for success, while ensuring access and services are maintained.
- Enhanced provision of public transport and infrastructure for safe and convenient walking and cycling are essential. These must be combined with the transformative potential of road space reallocation and the widespread expansion of on-demand shared services.
- The electrification strategy should support, rather than hinder, the transition towards sustainable transport systems through allocation of appropriate charging infrastructure for mobility hubs and on-demand shared services