Cyclist.ie welcomes the publication of the Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23) with Chapter 15 (pages 183-212) dealing with transport.
We observe generally that this document is a synthesis of many already-announced government commitments in the sustainable transport domain.
However, Cyclist.ie notes and welcomes that CAP23 targets have been revised to meet the higher level of ambition (compared to CAP21), including a 20% reduction in total vehicle kilometres, a reduction in fuel usage, and significant increases to sustainable transport trips and modal share (p184).
This is significant in that the assumption underpinning pretty much all transport modelling conducted in Ireland over recent decades was that vehicle kilometres would continue to grow (and therefore, as the argument went, road capacity would need to increase). We are now in a new era when we have an explicit understanding and acknowledgement by government that we need to operate under an “Avoid – Shift – Improve” framework as set out in the 2020 EPA State of the Environment Report (shown below) and now inscribed into the CAP23.
Cyclist.ie also notes the recognition within CAP23 of the OECD report’s findings (see here) that the Irish transport system embeds car-dependency and increased emissions by design, and again that the Avoid-Shift-Improve framework for transport sustainability needs to be applied to categorise all actions. And we welcome the statement that a “net-zero decarbonisation pathway for transport must seek to reduce demand, through mechanisms that lessen or avoid the need for unnecessary travel by unsustainable means. This Climate Action Plan reframes the previous pathway outlined in CAP21 under the Avoid-Shift-Improve Framework.” (p187)
We note that CAP23 puts additional emphasis on the need to engage the citizen on climate action and sustainable mobility (p194). This systematic engagement has been largely missing from government action in relation, for example, to conveying the many benefits of reallocating road space to public transport and active travel users and away from private individualised motorised transport. Cyclist.ie would be in a position to contribute to the National Sustainable Mobility Stakeholder Forum on its establishment (Table 15.7).
Cyclist.ie notes and broadly supports the 67 Actions (listed on pages 210 to 212) in relation to decarbonising transport, and we look forward to taking a close look at the implementation maps for actions, including timelines and responsible organisations that will be set out in the accompanying Annex.
At this point, we know that we will need strong and persuasive leadership at national, local and community levels to nurture public understanding of and support for the many measures that, cumulatively, will help to turn the transport ship in a sustainable direction. We need urgent action!
We look forward to engaging with the relevant national and local agencies and our own members in 2023, with a view to examining closely the CAP23 Annex of Actions and supporting their implementation.