An Taisce critical of Coalition draft transport strategy

Environmental trust critical of blueprint that fails to ‘meet imperative of climate science’

The Government’s strategic blueprint for investing in transport has been described by An Taisce as “legally deficient” because of its “irredeemable, overriding failure” to address climate change.

In a detailed critique of the document, Investing in Our Transport Future: A Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport, the environmental trust says it is at odds with the Government’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill.

Under the “national policy position” underpinning the Bill, Ireland’s carbon dioxide emissions are to be reduced by “at least 80 per cent (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors”.

The policy also states that national plans “will be adopted and reviewed on a structured basis . . . to ensure a coherent and comprehensive policy across all key sectors (and) will reflect Government commitment to transparency and inclusiveness ”.


According to An Taisce, the draft blueprint for transport investment should be rewritten to bring it into line with this policy position “and meet the imperative of climate science in the cumulative carbon budget which is available to Ireland”.

It says the document "reflects either ignorance of or indifference to the global scientific consensus on climate , the Copenhagen Accord and Irish Government commitment to a low-carbon future by 2050 in proposed new climate legislation".

Describing this as “startling”, An Taisce says the document “does not assess the fuel source and emission impact of existing and future transport infrastructure” or the need to protect coastal road and rail infrastructure from storms.

It says references in the document to climate change “are tacked on and not integrated with the evaluative process and concluding principles . . . This undermines the scientific and economic credibility of the entire process”.

Referring to 17 bullet points encapsulating “key issues”, An Taisce notes that they are “devoid of any reference to, let alone consideration of climate change mitigation and adaptation” and fail to consider the sustainability of “ghost motorways”.

“This includes the Gort-Tuam M17 currently under construction, the overcapacity of the M9 and other sections of the road network,” it says, while the document stated that the current level of subsidy for the railways “is not financially sustainable”.

An Taisce notes that the draft policy also does not consider the projected overshoot of Ireland’s EU 2020 target for the transport sector and the “downstream costs in emissions, congestion and sprawl caused by failed . . . planning”.

It says an effective transport investment strategy could only be measured in targets to reduce carbon emissions and car dependence – as provided for in the Smarter Travel policy, under which the total kilometres of commuting by car would be capped.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor