Tuesday 16 July 2019

Cleaner traffic jams 'won't cut it' in climate action plan

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Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Free public transport initiatives and schemes to reduce the number of journeys taken by people every day should have formed a key plank of the Government's new Climate Action plan, according to a leading researcher.

Dublin City University researcher Dr Laura Devaney said transport proposals in the plan do not go far enough to address the climate emergency. She has pointed to an over-reliance on replacement fuels and electric vehicles, minimising positive environmental impacts and leaving people in "cleaner traffic jams".

Many of the key actions in the Government's plan aim to cut greenhouse gases in the transport sector by transitioning to new clean technologies. Dr Devaney has welcomed the plan but would have liked to see more ambition in it.

"Change can be hard but it will be nowhere near as hard as the consequences climate change will bring," she said.

She called for a "modal shift", bringing people out of their cars and incentivising greater use of public transport, walking and cycling. Only then should the Government consider technologies, such as electric vehicles, which form a key plank of the plan, she added. She would have also liked to see measures taken to affect aviation, and incentives for people to move to public transport options.

"When we are re-investing in Waterford Airport or potentially having a third terminal in Dublin Airport, for me it highlights a lack of consistency across Government planning, policy and infrastructure planning. We need more than cleaner traffic jams. We need walking and cycling infrastructure. You only need to look internationally to see how this can be done properly and how you can incentivise people with free public transport that perhaps the Climate Action Plan should have looked at, or reduced-cost public transport.

"In Vienna people can pay €365 for an annual public transport ticket - €1 per day - and that encourages people."

Sunday Independent

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