The Minister in charge of driving forward green transport policies as part of the island's carbon neutrality ambition has complained that the “speed of the changes” is “too fast”.
Infrastructure Minister Deputy Kevin Lewis made the comments as he was grilled on the Government’s plans to achieve Jersey’s 2030 net zero goal by the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Panel yesterday.
The panel was chaired by Constable Mike Jackson and was attended by Deputies Steve Luce, Graham Truscott, and Inna Gardiner.
Joining Deputy Lewis was Louise Magris, the Government's Head of Sustainability and Foresight. Louisa Phillips, the Senior Policy officer for Sustainable Transport and Andy Scate, the Director General for Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (IHE), were also in attendance.
It was not long into the hearing when the Infrastructure Minister shared his concerns on recent developments surrounding the Carbon Neutral Roadmap agreed in December last year, following the declaration of a climate emergency by the States Assembly in 2019.
“I am member of the Carbon Neutral Team, and it’s been an interesting experience,” said Deputy Lewis. “We are not completely aligned, but we are moving in the right direction.”
“It’s the speed of the changes that I do not agree with," he added.
Pictured: “I do not believe we are ready” for the switchover from petrol and diesel to electric cars, says Deputy Kevin Lewis.
When asked whether he thought it was going too slowly, the Minister shook his head.
“I think it’s going too fast,” said the Minister, “and I don’t think we’re ready yet.”
“With regards to electrification, I do not believe we are anywhere near ready.”
Under recent Government proposals, the importation and registration of new petrol and diesel cars is set to be banned from 2030 onwards.
Pictured: The Minister for Infrastructure says that "we are not ready" for a full switch to electric cars.
The topic of discussion then moved from electric cars to public transport. Dr Louise Magris briefly summarised how the subject related to the Carbon Neutral Plan.
“Some aspects of sustainable transport relate to decarbonisation, but others do not,” she said. “Even if they do have carbon benefit.”
It was further explained that Ms Phillips had been brought in with her new position to take a hold of the work that “bridged the gap” between the two topics. “She’s been with us a year now and has helped a lot in her work with us and with IHE,” said Dr Magris.
“It’s about delivery as well as policy development, and it has been a challenge to get things up and running. There has been good progress, however, especially with regards to the Rapid Plan Analysis.”
Expanding on the 'Rapid Plan Analysis', Ms Phillips said: “We are coming to the latter stages of the plan, which is part of our sustainable travel policy commitments."
“We are starting to look at the engagement of active travel within the island and the parish so that we can start to realise what conceptual networks exist and identify what they investment and delivery plan may be.”
The role of the bus system was noted to be particularly crucial in that plan.
“It’s important to decide whether we need to focus on people using the bus system,” continued Louisa, “or whether we need to take a step back and look at how it works."
Pictured: The bus system was noted to be particularly crucial in decarbonisation plans.
Deputy Inna Gardiner queried whether any barriers to increased bus use had been identified as part of the plan.
“The reasons are wide-ranging,” replied Ms Phillips. “It’s about frequency, routes, convenience, weather (lack of shelters). Very few people we asked mentioned the cost, although that is still an issue for some.”
It was agreed that buses were not the definitive answer to sustainable transport. A spokesperson for the Infrastructure Department recently stated that currently “there are no Jersey-compatible zero-emission buses.”
“Even If buses were absolutely free,” added Deputy Lewis, “there will still be people who want to use their cars and I don’t think we’re ever going to change that”.
Dr Magris moved onto the subject of parking. “The parking plan is more of a stick to the carrot in terms of sustainable travel,” she explained. “It’s about what people want, what they need, and about whether we can raise potentially raise income that can go be fed back into the system.”
Pictured: Parking "is more of a stick to the carrot" with regards to sustainable travel.
“We’ll be looking into workplace parking levies, which have recently been trialled in the UK, and see if there’s anything we can implement there.”
The multi-faceted approach to decarbonisation and sustainable travel was then tied into the idea of “mobility as service” by Andy Scate.
“'Mobility as service' is when you have a piece of a technology, which might be your phone or your computer,” said Mr Scate. “You say where you want to go, it gives you options. It will tell you how much carbon will be used, the cost and the duration of the journey."
“It is similar to what we would used to call a personal travel plan in effect, but using technology.”
Pictured: "Mobility as a service" will allow people to use technology to arrange eco-friendly travel plans.
Discussions had commenced on implementing the service for Jersey, but work was still be done.
“The challenge is to get all the resources together, the date and the wiring behind the scenes,” continued Mr Scate.
“We need to start the conversation, where people know you can walk to work once a week, cycle one day per week, take a bus every now and again.
“When people understand that it doesn’t all need to be done at once, that makes it more manageable and makes the first steps easier to tread.”
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