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Public transport only way forward for sustainability, says Nicosia mayor

Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis on Thursday said public transport was the only way forward for sustainable mobility, and that time was running out to put it in place.

Speaking at the 6th Sustainable Mobility & Intelligent Transport – SMile 2019 two-day conference in Nicosia, Yiorkadjis said: “Public transport is the only way forward if we want to achieve our EU commitments relating to the reduction of harmful emissions.”

“We know what the problem is with regards to environmental pollution and traffic jams and we have the solution. We only need the necessary political will to implement them,” he added.

The mayor also said that in order to accomplish the goal “we must first change within, we must change the old perceptions that currently exist in many important and key government agencies relating to transport and road design.”

“Currently too little is being done, too slowly. At this pace Cyprus probably will not be able to successfully deliver on its promises to the EU relating to emission reduction,” he said.

According to Yiorkadjis “time is running out and we need to act now.”

Addressing the opening of the conference, Transport Minister Vassiliki Anastassiadou referred to issues such as air quality, the optimal management of water resources and waste, recycling in remote areas and islands and ways to generate clean energy.

Ways to reduce dependence on vehicles and fossil fuel consumption through the use of technology, on efforts to stimulate sustainable economic growth, on sustainable tourism and smart cities, was imperative, she said.

Her ministry, she added, was an active proponent of sustainable mobility and referred to a number of projects to develop public transport, design and implement infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists that included exploring the feasibility and sustainability of rail connection between cities and tramways within urban areas.

She also spoke of about an “holistic approach in promoting the development and implementation of sustainable urban mobility plans for each city, as well as developing a strategic transport plan for the whole island.”

In his address, the Rector of the University of Cyprus Tassos Christofides said his expectation was that the country would become a model for environmental sustainability and people would make the right use of public transport.

“We envisage a future with sustainable transportation options, road safety and a society that will finally embrace sustainable mobility and public transport, making our cities more humane,” he said.

The opening of the conference was also addressed by Helmut Morsi from the DG for Mobility and Transport, while Calleja Crespo, the Director General of DG Environment addressed participants via video message.

During the two-day conference, at the Philoxenia Conference Centre, various panels will be held on topics such as sustainable mobility, innovation, climate change and energy. The conference, organised by the transport ministry under the auspices of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment and for Mobility and Transport, concludes Friday.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said changes in the transport sector would determine whether Cyprus would achieve its new goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The minister presented before the House environment committee the government’s draft plan on climate and energy for the period 2021 and 2030. Cyprus said it wants to cut greenhouse emissions by 24 per cent, excluding electricity production, cement and brick production.

MPs were told the transport sector contributed 49 per cent, energy, excluding power production, 17 per cent, waste, 14 per cent, agriculture, 12 per cent and industry, 8 per cent.

“The transport share is the most important,” Kadis said. “The contribution in achieving the target is 49 per cent; half our effort must come from transport.”

The realistic scenario to fulfil the plan, provides for expenditure to reach around €1.2bn between 2021 and 2030, with the state contributing €287m. The maximum potential scenario foresees additional investment amounting €4.2bn, €2.4bn footed by the state, and €2bn going to transport.

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