Over 64% of Ireland’s 2030 transport sectoral emissions ceiling reached in 2023

— Local authorities must have support and guidance from national Govt, Advisory Council says.

Ireland reached 64% of its 2030 transport sectoral emissions ceiling in 2023, according to the Climate Change Advisory Council’s annual transport sector report.

The advisory council highlighted how transport — even excluding international travel — was the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland and said that “reliance on fossil fuels needs to end for the sector to reduce its emissions in line with climate objectives.”

It said that recent data indicates “a slight increase in emissions in 2023” and that “even with full implementation of proposed policies and measures, the sector is projected to exceed its sectoral emissions ceiling.”

It said that demand for petrol, diesel, and jet kerosene all increased in 2023, but the increase in emissions in 2023 was “somewhat limited by a significant increase in public transport use,” which was up 24% on 2022 levels and supported by a considerable expansion in rural bus services and continuing 20% reductions in fares.

Among its key recommendations the Council states that it “strongly recommends” that the Government “urgently conducts a full review of taxation in the Transport sector” including vehicle registration tax, motor tax, excise duty, carbon tax, fuel pricing and distance-based charges.

It said this review should include ensuring that taxation policy supports households and businesses in switching to cleaner transport methods, aligns with climate objectives, and minimises negative impacts on society.

It also said that the Government and local authorities should “reallocate road space to provide better access for more sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling or taking a bus.” While it said that public transport services need to improve, and that “more public engagement is needed to understand the barriers people face in making sustainable transport choices”.

The council also called for planning reform to “ensure that new developments reduce transport demand by placing homes, workplaces, public services and leisure spaces closer to each other and nearer to public and active transport” infrastructure and to “speed up the delivery of major public and active transport infrastructure projects and minimise the costs and delays associated with the planning process.”

The Council said: “Local authorities must have the support and guidance from Government that they need to reduce transport demand and emissions, with locally implemented measures such as low-emission zones and provision of shuttle bus services or incentives to promote carpooling.”

It also said that investment is needed to “strengthen the resilience of ports and critical roads and railways to the future impacts of climate change such as more intense rainfall events and sea level rise.”

On the sectoral emissions ceiling, the assessment said: “The Transport sector needs to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 (relative to a 2018 baseline), which equates to a target emissions level of approximately 6 Mt CO2 eq in 2030. A total of 42% of the first sectoral emissions ceiling (54 Mt CO2 eq) for the Transport sector had been expended by the end of 2022 (Table 1). Based on the Interim 2023 National Energy Balance, an estimated 34.7 Mt CO2 eq or 64% of the sectoral emissions ceiling had been used by the end of 2023.”

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