Climate Change and Transport
A Climate Change Unit was established in 2016 to co-ordinate this Department’s policy response to the challenge of climate change. The Department will play a significant role in the national objective to achieve a cost effective emissions reduction pathway and will be responsible for ensuring, with key stakeholders, that transport infrastructure and services can effectively withstand the likely future impacts of climate change.
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Mitigation: In order for Ireland to effectively contribute to reducing carbon emissions, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act sets out proposed statutory obligations in relation to the development of a National Mitigation Plan (NMP). This Plan will incorporate input from a number of sectors namely electricity generation, built environment, agriculture and transport. Taking account of contributions received from stakeholders in 2014 Climate Change Mitigation Preparation of Low-carbon Roadmap for Transport and an information exchange event in 2015, this Department is now in the process of developing the transport sector’s contribution to the NMP.
The suite of measures being examined, as part of this process, reflects a multi-faceted approach to reducing emissions in transport with a particular focus on smarter travel and modal shift, supports for alternative fuels and certain fiscal and taxation incentives to target behavioural change. The development of the draft Mitigation Plan will be aligned to the timeframe contained in the above Act. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) have prepared a briefing document outlining the development of the NMP to date. It covers the four sectors concerned and highlights some key questions on how Ireland should achieve its national transition objectives by 2050.
The draft NMP concluded an extensive public consultation on Wednesday 26th April 2017. Submissions were taken into consideration before submitting the plan to Government for approval. The plan was approved by government on the 27th June and it has been published on DCCAE’s website. Click the link to view the National Mitigation Plan.
Adaptation: Climate change creates new vulnerabilities and exacerbates existing ones. There is a lot of uncertainty about how, when and where the impacts of climate change will be experienced in Ireland but there is sufficient data available to enable the commencement of work that will help to build resilience against the likely impacts over the coming decades.
The first adaptation plan for the transport sector, Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Transport Sector, was published on 29 November 2017. The Plan outlines climate research and analysis on the likely impacts of climate change for transport – including more frequent storm events, rising sea levels and increased incidents of flooding. The Plan also highlights the positive ongoing work in climate change adaptation within the transport sector and other sectors.
A preliminary draft of the adaptation plan was prepared for public consultation undertaken in the period between December 2016 and February 2017. The consultation process allowed stakeholders an opportunity to comment on likely impacts, vulnerabilities and risks, with particular reference to cross-sectoral concerns, to Ireland’s transport system from climate change and the challenges and opportunities identified therein. A response to the public consultation outlining the key themes of the submissions received was published in November 2017 and is available here.
A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) will not be required at this time as the specific contents of the adaptation plan do not, of themselves, have a significant effect on the environment or the Natura 2000 sites. The associated SEA and AA reports are available here and here.
Further and more detailed Information on the predicted impacts of climate change on Ireland and on a range of adaptation options for Ireland is available on Climate Ireland.
Alternative Fuels Infrastructure
On 31 May 2017 the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Government published the National Policy Framework for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure for Transport in Ireland (NPF) (Irish version)and its associated Public Consultation Report, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Statement and Natura Impact Report.
This Department, together with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), developed the NPF to support the deployment of alternative fuels for transport in Ireland arising from obligations associated with Directive 2014/94/EU and assist in removing any barriers that exist towards greater uptake of low emissions vehicles (LEVs), including in the public transport fleet.
Transitioning away from the use of oil over the coming decades will not only help to meet climate objectives but it will also have co-benefits in terms of air quality. It is expected that the transport sector will move predominantly to electricity for passenger cars, commuter rail and taxis by 2030. Natural gas, along with some electrification, will provide an interim alternative solution for larger road vehicles - freight and buses. It is envisaged that biofuels will continue to play a role over the next ten years or so.
In accordance with the EC (Environmental Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes) Regulations 2004 (S.I. 435 of 2004 as amended in 2011), an SEA Statement summarising how environmental considerations have been integrated into the Framework, how consultations have been taken into account, the reasons for choosing the Framework in light of other reasonable alternatives and the measures proposed to monitor significant environmental effects has also been prepared.
Finally in accordance Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive (92/43/ECC) an appropriate assessment of the implications of the Framework for European Sites in view of their conservation objectives has been undertaken including the preparation of a Natura Impact Statement.
The documents were available for public inspection at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, and associated regional offices, during office hours for a 4 week period from 31st May to the 28th June 2017 but can still be downloaded by clicking on the links above.
Low Emissions Vehicles (LEV) Task Force
In accordance with the Programme for Partnership Government commitment, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS), with the support of the Department of An Taoiseach (DoT), have convened an interdepartmental Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) Task Force.
It is charged with presenting a range of measures and options to the Government that will assist in accelerating the deployment of LEVs in Ireland. The Task force held its first meeting in December and decided to organise its work into three key areas;
- Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility;
- Infrastructure, Energy Regulation and Pricing; and
- Planning Legislation, Building Regulations and Public Leadership
Working Group 1(WG1) is chaired by The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and is looking at Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility.
It’s detailed work began with a meeting on Wednesday 1st February, giving consideration of the details of the WG1 work programme and consideration of existing incentives.
Our second meeting held on Wednesday 15th March, where a paper was presented on the potential taxation measures and another on a review of existing measures.
The third meeting was held on the 3rd July and at this meeting a paper was presented on public procurement policy and another on SPSV and taxi regulations and licensing.
We held an industry stakeholder morning session on Thursday 20th July where we recapped those previous presentations and our ideas thus far. We gained valuable industry perspective on the same as a result of this stakeholder day.
Based on the recommendations of the LEV Taskforce presented to the Government in Q3 of 2017, in advance of this year’s Budgetary and Estimates Process, a suite of tax and expenditure measures have been agreed that clearly indicate the Government's commitment to a low-carbon electric vehicle (EV) future.
In the transport sector, I am pleased to have secured significant funding commitments which will actively address the climate change on three key fronts:
- Firstly through meeting the increasing travel demand through enhanced public transport capacity and improved infrastructure, in 2018 over €400 million will be invested in public transport infrastructure, rising to over €500m in 2019, over €700 million in 2020 and almost 1.1 billion in 2021. That is a four-year capital envelope for public transport of over 2.7 billion euro which represents a 275 percent increase in investment over that period;
- Secondly, by investing €100m in a multi-annual cycling and walking programme to support greater uptake of active travel and promote modal shift away from private car use;
- and lastly, based on the recommendations of the Low Emitting Vehicle Taskforce a suite of tax and expenditure measures have been agreed that clearly indicating the Government’s commitment to a low-carbon electric vehicle (EV) future. I was pleased to secure resources to introduce a new toll incentive regime for zero-emission/ultra-low emitting cars and a new EV grant scheme in the high visibility Taxi /Hackney/Limousine (SPSV) sector, eligible for both battery electric and plug in hybrids.