People's Climate March in Dublin

On Sunday 29 November, we took part in the People’s Climate March in Dublin which was organised by Stop Climate Chaos. This was just before the UN’s COP21 conference in Paris, which for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. See our Flickr album for more photos from the day.

How does cycling come into all of this ? Well in SEAI’s Energy in Ireland - Key Statistics 2014, regarding CO2 emissions in 2013 the transport sector was responsible for 34%. This is a growth of 109% since 1990 with an annual average increase of 3.2%.

And from Ireland’s motor industry’s own stats car sales are increasing again, with car sales over 124K by the end of November and expecting to top 140K by year end. This is quite an increase from last year’s 96,280. Another important thing to note from these statistics is that over 70% of private cars sold were diesel. This may lead to lower CO2 output but results in other problems.

From the BBC’s Diesel cars: What’s all the fuss about?

A number of studies have shown that diesel cars, unlike petrol cars, spew out high levels of what are known as nitrogen oxides and dioxides, together called NOx. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is particularly nasty - recent studies have shown it can cause or exacerbate a number of health conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs, which can trigger asthma and bronchitis, and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The CSO National Travel Survey showed that 19% of trips by car were less than 2km. That distance could be comfortably cycled in around 10 minutes. In much of the talk of climate action and particularly the opportunities and challenges for climate mitigation in the Irish transport sector, cycling is really being overlooked. Yet the EU Transport Ministers, including Ireland’s Paschal Donohoe declared cycling as a climate friendly and efficient transport mode, only back in October.

Peter Walker in the Guardian last week looked at how cycling could help the Paris climate talks change the world.

It’s one of the curious paradoxes of bikes in the modern world, that this largely low-tech device – if you exclude e-bikes the fundamentals have stayed broadly similar for 130 years – is so beautifully suited as a solution to the very modern problem of global warming. And yet so little is being done.

It speaks eloquently of a failure of imagination, of ambition, of will, of vision among the politicians gathered in Paris. And that doesn’t fill me with optimism about the talks.

After the first week of the COP21 Conference, the European Cyclists Federation of which we are part of through Cyclist.ie’s national membership, reflected on how cycling is being covered at the talks.

It is good to see that transport in general is higher on the global agenda – and that we have allies on the global level to promote cycling, but there is still a lot to do to unleash the global potential of cycling.

With the approach of 2020 and Ireland’s modal-split for daily cycling trips at a mere 1.6% rather than the 10% target set out in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009, it is time to put the pressure on our government and the Oireachtas to face up to their responsibilities to plan seriously for the decarbonisation of the transport system. Please sign Uplift’s petition to support this call.

News Item
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

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