Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (673, 674, 675, 676)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

673. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost per tonne of abating greenhouse gas emissions by diverting freight to rail. [26658/19]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

674. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost per tonne of abating greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating and incentivising switching from diesel and petrol cars to electric cars. [26659/19]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

675. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost per tonne of abating greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating and incentivising modal shift from cars to public transport. [26660/19]

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Eamon Ryan

Question:

676. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the estimated cost per tonne of abating greenhouse gas emissions by facilitating and incentivising modal shift from cars to bicycles. [26661/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 673 to 676, inclusive, together.

Central to the development of the new Climate Action Plan was the economic evaluation of key emission mitigation technologies. A Marginal Abatement Cost Curve approach (MACC) was used to compare ‘business-as-usual’ economic activity to ‘low carbon’ options. In the Plan an estimated marginal cost per tonne of carbon abated was attributed to certain technologies. This technique allows for comparative analysis of ‘low carbon’ alternatives across key sectors. An overview of costs and emission reduction potential of sector-specific mitigation approaches can be found in Table 4.2 of the Climate Action Plan (page 28) https://www.dccae.gov.ie/documents/Climate%20Action%20Plan%202019.pdf).

According to this analysis some of the most cost-effective abatement opportunities - from a societal perspective - include the electrification of transport. This is expected due to fast-falling battery prices, which are likely to put the lifetime total cost of ownership of electric vehicles on par with those of fossil fuel vehicles over the next decade or so. The Climate Action Plan shows the expected average abatement cost over the period 2021 to 2030 for switching from fossil-fuelled passenger cars to electric vehicles on a total cost of ownership basis at around -€116 cost per tonne.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the estimated cost per tonne of emissions abated through measures that encourage modal shift to either public transport or active travel is less readily available. Nevertheless, indicative calculations by my Department estimate that by replacing 10,000 daily car journeys with cycling (assuming the replaced car journey length was equivalent to the average bike journey length in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA)) approximately 37.25 ktCO2 could be abated between 2020 and 2030. The National Transport Authority has also estimated that replacing 10% of car trips in the GDA (travelling the average GDA morning peak distance) with public transport could potentially result in an annual emission abatement of 22ktCO2.. For context, the transport sector in Ireland emitted a little over 12,000 ktCO2 in 2017.

To further reduce the carbon footprint of modal shift towards public transport I have committed to continuing to improve the energy and emissions efficiencies of the public transport fleets. In the urban bus fleet, a clear trajectory to low emission buses has been outlined with no more diesel-only buses being purchased for the urban public bus fleet from next month and by 2035 to only have low-emitting buses in the urban PSO bus fleet. My Department has estimated that when the entire bus fleet is converted to low-emitting that up to 15 ktCO2 will be saved annually compared to the business-as-usual diesel fleet.

It is also important to consider the potential contribution of electrified rail to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. We plan to create a full metropolitan area DART network for the Greater Dublin Area; this is the part of the national rail network that carries over 75% of total rail passengers each year. It will mean high-frequency electrified rail services to Drogheda, Celbridge/Hazelhatch, Maynooth and M3 Parkway, as well as new interchange stations with bus, LUAS and Metro networks, resulting in approximately 130 ktCO2 ­annual abatement when complete. The NTA and Iarnród Éireann have recently commenced a procurement process for the establishment of a 10 year framework agreement for the purchase of additional lower-emitting rail fleet required for the expansion of the DART network. In addition, the delivery of eight additional high capacity Luas trams could also reduce emissions by 12 ktCO2 per annum, assuming the Luas trips replace 63.3 million kms driven by private car. These major rail projects will help supplement the range of viable low carbon alternatives to private passenger car travel and positively impact on our sectoral emissions profile.

It is clear that prioritising investment in our public and active transport network and encouraging modal shift is working – during the reporting period of 2017 alone, an additional 16 million public transport passenger journeys were made in Ireland while the number of walking and cycling trips also increased, particularly within the Greater Dublin Area. Collectively, these efforts have resulted in activities that yield fewer CO2 emissions in addition to reducing vehicle volume and improving air quality. In fact, 2017 saw a welcome return to a drop in transport sector emissions, the first time in four years.

Finally, in relation to the Deputy’s question regarding diverting freight to rail, it is important to note that Irish rail freight quantities are comparatively small and have declined over recent decades. Long run data from the CSO shows that the total tonnage of goods carried by rail decreased from 3.4 million tonnes in 1985 to 581,000 tonnes in 2016. Internationally, where viable, rail freight can be a lower emitting alternative to road freight, particularly over long distances with bulky loads. However, in Ireland, the limited number of high-volume bulk movements combined with the country's small size and low density of activity means that rail freight is not generally as economically viable as road freight, although in certain, specific circumstances it does provide a viable alternative.