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Ireland needs to adopt ‘avoid-shift-improve’ transport approach to reduce climate emissions

The ‘avoid-shift-improve’ approach needs to be adopted in Ireland reduce transport-related carbon emissions, according to a report by Ireland’s parliamentary Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action.

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The committee said that avoid means reducing the need for travel, shift means moving to more sustainable transport, and improve means improving the efficiency of transport modes.

The committee yesterday launched its ‘Report on reducing emissions in the transport sector by 51% by 2030‘ — it’s the first of a series of reports covering different sectors on how Ireland will meet its climate emissions targets for 2030 and to have “net zero” emissions by 2050.

On cycling, the report said that “Family friendly cycling infrastructure [is needed] to achieve wider and more diverse uptake of cycling, as used in other countries, should be introduced.”

IMAGE: The use of cargo bicycles for business is mentioned in the report.

It recommends a system of incentives for the uptake standard and electric bicycles need to be reviewed “beyond the Bike-to-Work scheme” system. It also points towards business use of cargo bicycles.

The report said that “a major upgrade in the planning for and provision of bike-parking infrastructure” and better integration with public transport is needed.

Committee chairperson Deputy Brian Leddin, said: “Ireland has the fourth highest level of transport emissions per capita in Europe and the transport sector is responsible for around 20% of our overall CO₂ emissions, with private cars being the largest contributors to transport emissions.”

“Taking into account projected population growth and, in turn, economic growth in the coming decades, Ireland will face a significant challenge in decarbonisation of the transport sector,” he said.

On the ‘avoid-shift-improve’ approach, Deputy Leddin said: “This report challenges the conventional ‘predict and provide’ approach and legacy of poor planning that has induced traffic and car dependency, driven road construction and high greenhouse gas emissions, with their resulting adverse consequences for our economy, our health, our society and our environment.”

A policy of road space reallocation away from the private car and towards sustainable transport modes be introduced for cities, towns and villages, in order to induce demand for sustainable transport modes and to reduce capacity for private cars, the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action said.

The report said: “The Committee recommends that current planned road projects should be reviewed in order to assess where funding could be reallocated towards more sustainable modes of travel. Such a review needs to include a cost benefit analysis that would examine the long-term carbon impact of the planned road projects versus the potential sustainable alternatives.”

The report also focuses on electrification of transport and makes suggestions around public transport, including looking at free-to-use public transport. The full report can be found on

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Cian Ginty

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