CYCLIST.IE PRESS RELEASE – Report by Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, warmly welcomes the Report on Addressing Climate Change in Ireland by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action. As acknowledged by the government, Ireland is behind other European countries in attaining its binding, EU agreed, 2020 and 2030 targets with regards to energy efficiency and reduction of GHG emissions.

Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie, said “This report is an important step on the path to decarbonising transport in Ireland. In particular, the cross-party recommendation for an allocation to cycling of 10% of transport investment is a momentous decision and when properly expended will ensure that the government delivers far ranging change not only in  carbon emissions but also in personal travel, health, congestion and air/noise pollution”.

The Committee is to be highly commended for its prioritising of active travel by placing it front and centre in the transport section of the report. Transport policies often pay lip-service to active travel but rarely give it the serious consideration it deserves. We acknowledge the proposed government investment in active travel in cities and welcome its extension to larger towns across the country. We regret that the Committee did not adopt the Citizens Assembly recommendation of reversing the proportion of funding towards roads relative to public transport. Simple rules will be required to proportion the allocation of investment to different modes of transport for, unless there is transparency and clarity about the funding, there is a risk of investment being misdirected.

The Committee acknowledges the impact of car travel on congestion and that the ‘do nothing” scenario will only lead to increasing gridlock in our towns and cities. While it is accepted that the  Committee has not considered school travel in depth, it is regrettable that efforts to deter school trips by car such as the closing of streets near schools to private car traffic have not been referenced.

We share the Committee’s concern about the length of time it takes to deliver major projects and welcome its support for multi-modal travel. We applaud its recommendation for restrictions on access of private cars to large urban centres but we are concerned about local authorities preference for ‘balance between road users’ which is often a  synonym for maintaining the status quo.

While electric vehicles have a role in decarbonising the transport sector, we regret that there is no mention of the huge potential of E-bikes. In countries where the level of cycling is high, the sale of such bikes far outweighs the number of electric cars and at far less cost to the individual and to government. It is hoped that in the future the Committee will also have the opportunity to consider the increasing use of cargo bikes for last mile deliveries across Europe, so we can replicate it here in Ireland.

We are happy to see the reference to trials of free public transport in a number of European cities, although it is disappointing that the report does not refer to the removal of hidden subsidies to car travel such as free parking at places of work, at shopping centres and in public areas.  These areas need to be addressed.

In summary, the report is an important step on the path to a carbon free future and Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes its publication.  Its ultimate success however will depend on how it informs the adoption of appropriate targets and on the monitoring and reporting of progress in Minister Richard Bruton’s  eagerly awaited All-of-Government Plan on Climate.

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Cyclist.ie Press Release – CLIMATE ACTION: MINISTER ROSS MUST INVEST IN CYCLING

The following press release appeared in the Examiner on 21st December.

The Government’s recently published Annual Transition Statement 2018 has ignored the potential for cycling to reduce transport emissions.  The legislation is designed to enable Ireland’s transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. However, the section of the Statement dealing with the decarbonising of the transport sector  demonstrates a complete failure by Minister Ross and his Department to grasp the potential contribution that cycling can make to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Transport accounts for over 52% of energy used in Ireland and is increasing. It is one of the four key areas where a reduction in carbon emissions is required to meet our international obligations. Section 4.4 of the Annual Sectoral Mitigation Statement deals with decarbonising transport and states that this involves providing meaningful alternatives to the private car, continuing investment in sustainable transport and promotion of modal shift.

However, in the accompanying National Mitigation Plan Actions, a different narrative unfolds – one where rhetoric is divorced from anything remotely approaching meaningful action.

The Update Report on Actions contains a section entitled “Actions not delivered as planned”. It includes words like “publish”, “review”, and “strategy” rather than “fund” and “enable”. Six of the actions were due to be completed by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport in 2017. These include “Publish a review of the National Cycle Policy Framework” which originally commenced in 2013 and which 5 years on has still not been completed.

Under Actions Complete, the Decarbonising Transport section lists five items.  The DTTAS were responsible for two – setting up a behavioural change working group and publication of a Greenway Strategy. Greenway funding is welcome but it is disingenuous to claim that publication of a strategy or the setting up of a working group will reduce emissions and it is noted that no estimate of emission reduction is included.

The recent IPCC report clearly spells out the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. To minimise environmental damage and  fines arising from the failure to meet Ireland’s climate change targets, Minister Ross must adopt much more ambitious actions than currently outlined. Cycling is the mode of transport for more than 40% of people in many progressive European cities.  Cycling will not solve the problem of climate change on its own, but as 57% of Irish journeys are less than 8 km, it can make a significant contribution as well as alleviating congestion, contributing to cleaner air, improving health outcomes and creating attractive neighbourhoods, For cycling to play its part however, Minister Ross must begin to properly fund high quality cycling infrastructure which will enable cycling for all.

“Cycling offers the best and quickest return on investment of all transport expenditure. We urgently need to invest a minimum of 10% of transport funding in cycling infrastructure, to give people a safe, attractive alternative to the car” says Gerry Dornan, Vice Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network.

Nearly two thousand years ago, the Emperor Nero is reputed to have fiddled while Rome burnt. In the next few years we shall see if our current leaders will emulate him or take decisive action to stop climate change.

END

10% of Land Transport Budget – #Allocate4Cycling

budget submission_Twitter Photo

Cyclist.ie members, including Maynooth Cycling Campaign, have put together a strong budget submission addressed to Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue, outlining the deficiency in government funding supports to enable cycling to grow. Essentially we are calling for an immediate 10% of Land Transport Funding to be allocated to Cycling, to enable the government to meet its own target of 10% of modal share by cycling by 2020. Currently the modal share stands at only approximately 3% of trips by bike, and funding levels are at approximately 2% of Land Transport Funding!

The Cyclist.ie submission points out that the appropriate funding for cycling aligns with numerous government policies and initiatives across a variety of sectors such as Transport, Environment, Climate Change, Health, Business, and Education. Cycling, as a mode of transport, offers numerous well documented benefits to society, including:

  • Improved public health
  • Reduced congestion
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced air and noise pollution
  • More liveable and sociable streets and communities, and
  • High rates of economic return

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money.

From available data we estimate that spending on cycling currently only amounts to approximately 2% of Transport capital spending. This compares to recommended targets of 10% for cycling, and present European levels of between 5% and 8%. This very low proportion is not commensurate with the benefits offered by cycling, or with the significant economic costs which car dependence imposes on Irish society. To encourage people to make more journeys by bicycle;

We call for 10% of the capital budget for land transport to be invested in cycling.

At the same time, an increase in current spending on a range of different objectives which can support a transition to a cycling friendly society is also required.

The full budget submission is available here and a short summary document here. We need YOU to contact your local representatives and make the case to increase funding for cycling. See https://www.whoismytd.com/ for the names and contact details of your local TDs.

IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW!

Stop Climate Chaos -Discussion on Strategy

The Letter below was sent to the Stop Climate Chaos members including Cyclist.ie (of which Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a part) on a Draft Strategic Plan which was discussed on Thursday 12th January.
From: Oisin Coghlan – Friends of the Earth <oisin@foe.ie>
Date: Tue 10 Jan 2017 at 17:47
Subject: [SCC members] Document for discussion and decision at Thursday morning’s meeting in Concern
To: stopclimatechaos@googlegroups.com <stopclimatechaos@googlegroups.com>

 
Dear all,

You will remember last year that our coalition decided that we should review our ambition and our structure in the light of the increased urgency of climate action on foot of the Paris Agreement and our own Climate Action Act.
A small Review Group was set up last summer: Lorna from Trocaire, Phil from An Taisce, Sorley from Christian Aid and myself. We were mandated to look at what was happening in England and Scotland, consult various external stakehoders, and come back to you the members with a proposal.
That proposal is now attached in the form of a draft Strategic Plan and Thursday’s meeting is to consider it and the next steps.
The Plan takes as its starting point the campaign vision we agreed last year: “That Ireland makes a rapid and just transition to a carbon free future”.
It proposes three strategic objectives, in the following areas
1) Growing the climate movement
2) Influencing policy
3) Engaging the widest possible public audience
Thursday’s meeting will be asked to approve each of these objectives.
The second part of the Plan is about about “Delivering our Vision”
That involves a proposal for an independent chairperson as our chief spokesperson, clear governance procedures and a process to enable us to increase SCC’s staff capacity from about 0.6 FTE (i.e. around one person on average 3 days a week) to about 1.8 FTE (full-time equivalent).
The last element of this is the financing, which has two dimensions. Firstly, a renewed and if possible enhanced buy-in from the member organizations of SCC. And secondly a proposal that SCC should for the first time apply for institutional grant funding. Lorna will outline the first opportunity for this at the meeting on Thursday for your consideration.
I’ve often said that Stop Climate Chaos is the smoothest running and most effective coalition I have ever worked in. That is down to the enthusiastic participation of many members over the years and the rock solid trust and commitment of all members. The current climate policy landscape in Ireland means there are big opportunities for our coalition. Thursday’s meeting is about gearing up to make the most of them, rather that risk missing them. We very much hope you can join us at 10am on Thursdsay in Concern in Grantham Street.
Yours,
Oisin
on behalf of the SCC Review Group