Only €700,000 used of €5.5m to fund carbon cuts research

Minister for Transport Shane Ross attributes underspend to delay in getting projects set up

The transport sector is one of the big two emitters of greenhouse gases along with agriculture, and emissions have been increasing in recent years.  Photograph: Getty Images

The transport sector is one of the big two emitters of greenhouse gases along with agriculture, and emissions have been increasing in recent years. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Department of Transport used less than €700,000 of a €5.5 million budget for 2018 to fund new research into carbon reductions.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross attributed the underspend to delays in getting projects off the ground. However, it was described by Fianna Fáil as an “appalling indictment” of his department’s inaction in dealing with transport emissions.

The Carbon Reduction Programme was established to examine emerging technologies and research in the transport sector. In a reply to a parliamentary question this week, Mr Ross said only €697,300 was used in 2018, an eighth of the total.

The funds were to be used for pilot programmes that tested hybrid buses for Dublin Bus, and a trial where rural buses would use alternative fuels other than diesel. Other projects included a grant system for electric taxis, and reduced tolls for electric vehicles.

Mr Ross said production delays had deferred the delivery of nine hybrid buses until 2019, and there were procurement delays for a scheme involving rural buses.

In relation to the grants for electric public vehicles, he said the assessment process meant that payouts were low at the start of 2018, but improved towards the end of the year. He also said that free tolling concessions for electric vehicles had only come in in a few months of 2018.

Greenhouse gases

The transport sector is one of the big two emitters of greenhouse gases along with agriculture, and emissions have been increasing in recent years.

Mr Ross said “emission savings from technological advancements in improving vehicle efficiencies and new lower-carbon fuels are being offset by strong growth in transport demand”.

Fianna Fáil TD John Curran, who put the question, said the delay in the scheme was appalling as there was adequate lead-in time. He said it would have allowed a pilot programme for new low-emission and zero-emission buses in the capital and outside.

“The Minister did not spend all the money, and the fact he spent so little is a damning indictment on his care on carbon reduction and the whole emissions-reduction programme.

“He should have been leading this. The budget was made available in October 2017. There was ample lead-in time. The outcome is appalling, and heading into another year where there is a new budget and little sign of how he is going to spend that.”

A further € 7 million has been allotted to the programme in 2019.