In February 2019, Cynnal Cymru worked in partnership with Jacobs to deliver two major events for the Welsh Government. The objective of these Welsh Government funded events was to enable and motivate public sector professionals to speed up the transition to a low carbon, low emission transport system in Wales, with a particular focus on road transport and alternatives to private car ownership.
Delegates received information on SMART and vehicle technology, sources of funding, and examples that show how action can be taken that benefits the organisation, citizens, the local economy, and the environment.
A mixture of presentations, displays, demonstrations and surgeries enabled public sector professionals to learn from peers, industry, advisory organisations, government, and social enterprises.
The good news is that many of our public bodies in Wales are ambitious to decarbonise their own transport assets and want to help others to do so. Some, like Swansea Council, have moved beyond aspiration and are already running ultra-low emission vehicles. The technology is available and the whole life costs are persuasive. Electric, hydrogen and bio-gas options are available for public bodies but they were cautioned by experts to take time, do the research, analyse current service delivery before making any decisions. The right vehicle and the right power source needs to be chosen to fit the job. Effort needs to be made to ensure staff understand how to operate the new technology and are ready to embrace change.
The conferences also addressed the issues of public transport and equality of opportunity. Neil Lewis used the occasion of the Cardiff conference to announce that partners within Community Energy Wales are launching a co-operative to ensure that a network of chargers are established across Wales that will bring revenue to communities and make use of local renewable energy sources, where available.
Evidence was presented that experiences of electric vehicles in the workplace have the potential to make it six times more likely that people will switch to electric for private domestic use. A wide range of funds are available for home-based charging and for electrifying public transport. Cardiff for example will benefit from 36 new electric buses that were purchased through UK government funding.
We also heard a persuasive argument in favour of compressed natural bio-gas as a fuel. This still produces greenhouse gases but the amounts are less than fossil fuels and as the gas (methane) is derived from waste, it is part of a shorter term carbon cycle and not adding geological carbon to the atmosphere.
In addition to speakers and workshops, there were also vehicles on display and available for test drives. Both the Wrexham and Cardiff events had a real buzz about them and people were vigorously discussing practical options for removing fossil fuels from public transport, fleet and service vehicles as well as new models to reduce the reliance on the private car for commuting and business trips.
In 2016 we held our first seminar on the future of the car. We followed this in 2017 with a specific focus on the future of the car in Cardiff and in 2018 with a major event that looked at the challenges facing Wales as a whole if it is to transition to an ultra-low emission transport economy.
Also in 2018 we supported the Green Fleet Cymru event.
We are continuing to work with Jacobs, Welsh Government and other partners to promote understanding of ultra-low emission transport and to catalyse action to develop the markets and infrastrucutre for electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles.
Our contribution to this process is to broker collaboration between the public sector, the automotive sector, energy suppliers and communities, and to support ever wider engagement and communication of the challenges and opportunities of ultra-low emission vehicles.