Transport has a critical yet challenging role to play in the national carbon reduction effort. It is a sector where fossil fuel use is firmly embedded and travel demand is growing significantly due to our economic recovery and growing population. Despite this demand growth, 2017 saw a very welcome fall in transport emissions for the first time in four years.
The Carbon Reduction Programme has an important role to play in the transport emissions mitigation effort. However, it is only one small element of a far wider range of transport measures being implemented to help reduce emissions, including: the range of incentives to encourage a transition away from conventional fuels towards lower emitting alternatives, such as EVs; increasing the proportion of biofuels in the fuel mix; improving efficiency standards for vehicles; and of course the significantly enhanced funding I am making available to support the development of new and improved public and sustainable transport infrastructure. The National Development Plan outlines the €8.6 billion that will be invested in a range of projects that will collectively enhance sustainable transport options for citizens across the State and encourage modal shift away from the private car.
The Carbon Reduction Programme is intended for measures that are new, innovative and often associated with emerging technologies and research. Because such projects tend to take more time to develop, establish and gain acceptance, the programme drew down only €697,300 in 2018 due to:
- Production delays which deferred the delivery of nine hybrid buses until 2019 and procurement delays in facilitating a small scale pilot programme for alternatively fuelled rural buses; which costs will now arise in 2019 instead;
- Assessment of vehicle suitability by taxi drivers and the NTA which meant that, as is often the case with the introduction of new grants, the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) grant payment rate early in the year was slow; however, the application rate increased as 2018 progressed and this improvement is expected to continue into 2019 as the Scheme becomes established in the sector; and finally
- The Electric Vehicle (EV) Reduced Tolling Scheme was introduced in mid-2018 and drawdown only arose for four months of operation as scheme invoices for November and December did not arise for payment until January 2019.
Considering the increased take-up and spend on the various schemes and projects in the later months of 2018, I expect a higher spend from the Carbon Reduction Programme in 2019 and I was delighted to be able to allocate €7 million in 2019 to support five key areas:
1. Low Emission Bus Trials;
2. the Electric Vehicle Reduced Tolling Scheme;
3. the Electric SPSV Grant Scheme;
4. bridging the purchase cost differential of low-emission vehicles for the public transport sector; and
5. a research programme.