Congestion charges urged by environment watchdog
A congestion charge, greater pedestrianisation of city streets and investment in bus and rail is needed to reduce the impact of transport on human health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned.
Almost 20pc of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, and the sheer number of vehicles on the road is causing localised air pollution problems which are "masked" by overall national air quality results.
The 'Ireland's Environment: An Assessment 2016' report highlights that an awareness campaign and sustained investment is needed to encourage a shift from the private car to public transport. There is also a need to promote use of alternatives including electricity and biofuels to decarbonise the fleet. The report says poor air quality is linked with 1,200 deaths a year, and that there are some two million cars on the road, almost twice the number of 20 years ago.
Emissions are expected to increase by at least 10pc but possibly more by 2020 because a government target to have 50,000 electric vehicles on the road is unlikely to be met.
The EPA also says while the charging system of VRT and motor tax encourages purchase of more efficient vehicles, its environmental credentials are open to question. This is because it led to more people buying diesel cars, which have a greater impact on human health.
More energy-efficient vehicles are needed, and sales of electric vehicles needs to grow from less than 1pc of new car sales to 20pc within the next five years, it added.