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Government must now prioritise investment in family life over cars

Senator Pauline O’Reilly has today called for Government to make a significant and meaningful shift in focus to prioritise investment in family life over cars. This is on the back of today’s (June 3rd) publication of the ‘Report on Reducing Emissions in the Transport Sector by 51% by 2030’ from the Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action.

“We need to start putting families, children and work life balance first in Ireland. Millions of euros are invested in roads and cars every year and to what end? It results in poor air quality, hours commuting and infrastructure not fit for purpose for cyclists and pedestrians.

“The Government has committed to a reduction in carbon emissions of 51% in the transport sector by 2030 and net zero by 2050. We need to look at ambitious and innovative responses that will fundamentally reform how we live our lives in a way that is child and family friendly and protects our environment into the future.”

The committee’s report, which has had cross party agreement, calls for a review of all planned road construction projects with a view to reallocating funding to sustainable transport schemes, consideration of road charging and mileage reduction targets, accelerated transition to electric vehicles and electrification of commuter rail lines and an immediate expansion of public transport measures for rural and dispersed communities.

Committee Chairperson Green Party TD Brian Leddin commented;

“Ireland has the fourth highest level of transport emissions per capita in Europe and the transport sector is responsible for around 20% of our overall CO2 emissions with private cars being the largest contributors. Taking into account projected population growth and, in turn, economic growth in the coming decades, Ireland will face a significant challenge in decarbonisation of the transport sector.”

Some of the recommendations within the report include:

  • Reallocation of investment earmarked for future road construction projects to remote-working hubs and sustainable transport.
  • Reallocation of road space away from private cars towards sustainable transport modes in cities, towns and villages
  • Significant increase in investment in expansion of public transport measures for rural and dispersed communities following the ‘Every Village, Every Hour’ model in Germany.
  • Family friendly cycling infrastructure.
  • Development of cycling superhighways such as those in Denmark and London.
  • A national vehicle kilometers reduction target.
  • Further electrification of all public transport.

The Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill is currently in the third stage of its journey through the Houses of the Oireachtas. This report will form part of the recommendations in the implementation of the bill.