A closer look at the region’s transport sector
This is Cardiff Capital Region’s first year reporting to CDP, as it aspires to join the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign and track the region’s progress towards its net zero targets, adaptation, and resilience commitments.
CDP’s States and Regions questionnaire is the official progress tracker for sub-national governments who have signed up to the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign. We speak to Clare Cameron, Cardiff Capital Region’s Transport & Energy Manager, and Lucy Hoggins, Director of Resilience Sustainable Solutions Ltd, on how the region is rolling out its environmental and climate plans.
Both Clare and Lucy oversaw reporting the region’s data to CDP in 2022 and describe it as a ‘rewarding process, helping [their] team understand expectations around how climate-related programs should be structured and tracked, and how best to align with international financial requirements’.
Cardiff Capital Region has released an ambitious project to reduce emissions as part of its ‘City Deal’. Set up in 2016, and endorsed by the regional cabinet in 2020, the City Deal has made its way into climate change policies across all authority levels. The City Deal is an exceptional programme of collaboration between the10 local authorities in Cardiff Capital Region, the UK Government, and the Welsh government with a £1.2bn joint investment for the region’s sustainable growth and a vision to decarbonise its energy system. The City Deal’s energy strategy focuses on four different themes: transport, retrofits and housing, renewable energy, and business and industrial sites. This study will explore the transport sector’s energy strategies implemented under the City Deal, and the significant co-benefits for the region.
Transport Targets and Projects being Implemented under the Energy Sector Vision
One of the three primary aims of Cardiff Capital Region is to be a ‘connector of people, their ambitions and the opportunities to fulfil their true potential.’ To achieve this vision, the City Deal, and its Energy Vision and Strategy, outline the importance of ‘creating cutting edge integrated transport infrastructure and connecting affordable and accessible spaces to live, work and play.’ Within this vision, the region sets out decarbonisation targets to contribute to the Welsh Government’s targets for Net Zero by 2050. These targets include reducing emissions from the energy system by 55% and reducing emissions from the transport sector by 61% by 2035.
To achieve the transport sector target, the region is implementing various projects, including the development of a greener and faster metro system, connecting the rail networks, developing ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) infrastructure, electrifying part of the rail network from the valleys to Cardiff, and encouraging public and active transport.
The South Wales Metro project, already partially developed, is central to fulfilling the region’s ‘connectivity’ mission. The South Wales Metro is an integrated public transport network which makes it more convenient for people to move around and travel across the region, improving the rail and bus services in Cardiff Capital Region, as well as leading a shift away from private vehicle use. With a total budget of £734m for metro developments, the project will provide infrastructure updates to deliver faster, greener trains and the electrification of around 170km of tracks, as well as construct new stations and improve old ones.
Cardiff Capital Region is currently implementing an ULEV strategy, to reduce emissions and improve charging infrastructure to support the attraction of investment and create jobs. ULEV infrastructure has been embedded into all the transport plans of the region, within the private and public sectors, including public sector vehicles, cars, vans, and heavy goods vehicles. So far, the region has introduced taxi charging infrastructure, including 34 dual 50kw taxi chargers across 31 sites in the region and has bought 44 100% electric taxis to incentivize taxi drivers to use electric vehicles. Over 30 buses in the region have also been electrified. Within this plan, Cardiff Capital Region is undertaking a ‘try before you buy’ scheme where taxi drivers can trial electric vehicles. It has set up various public sector charging structures and is now moving their focus towards schools and health clinics, presented proposals for funding residential charging networks as well as funding the delivery of public charging infrastructure at 146 sites across the region, and is finalising the business case for introducing residential e-car clubs across the region, including in deprived areas to provide residents with access to vehicles for short-term rental periods.
Co-Benefits and Equity in Transport Projects under the City Deal:
Some of the key questions when developing climate action plans and policies are how these will positively impact the population, how the public is included in the development of these plans and what co-benefits come from them. Clare and Lucy walk us through how Cardiff Capital Region works with local communities to deliver the City Deal’s policy commitments, and what short and long-term benefits they receive from these strategies.
The transport schemes aim to provide affordable, reliable transport, particularly for those who don’t have access to private vehicles. This will better connect local communities to employment opportunities and reducing journey times. The region works closely with universities and colleges to develop a skills pipeline to implement transport schemes, as well as forming coalitions with businesses to capture what firms are doing in terms of decarbonisation and supporting their vehicle transition journey as well as the transition to sustainable products. In addition, ULEV charging infrastructure is being implemented in rural parts of the region to support the uptake in cleaner vehicles. To deliver its bus strategy, the region is looking into schemes that address rural locations, trialling minibus services in areas such as Newport, and trialling fare reduction schemes during Christmas to encourage people to shift from using private vehicles, to more active forms of travel such as walking and cycling. Finally, car clubs are being introduced in more deprived areas where individual ULEV ownership may be more challenging and different ownership models are being considered. To meet the Welsh target, Cardiff Capital Region needs to see a reduction of 6 million car trips.
Supporting the target to reduce transport emissions by 61% in 2035, is the UK Government ban on the sale of ICE cars and vans by 2030. This will help accelerate the transition to sustainable and reliable low carbon transport to connect all areas of Cardiff Capital Region
All of these initiatives will help further improve the air quality across the region, reduce congestion on major roads, attract investment and create ‘green jobs’ to develop these programmes and maintain them in the long run, grow the economy, and improve the health benefits of the population.
Cardiff Capital Region’s transport sector decarbonisation projects offer many co-benefits for its population and economy, aiming to fulfil its goal of creating ‘cutting edge integrated transport infrastructure, connecting affordable and accessible spaces to live, work and play.’
The region is adapting its decarbonisation targets to align more closely with the recently updated national Welsh targets, passed in March 2021. This means targets are more ambitious aligning with science-based targets to achieve a maximum 1.5°C scenario. These new targets aim to implement an equity-based approach to Wales’s fair share of emissions reductions, and will be reported in the next disclosure cycle, in 2023.