Ban on coal, peat for home heating mooted
The Government will have to consider banning peat and coal for home heating, and hiking the carbon tax on transport fuels, to move Ireland to a low-carbon economy.
Plans to reduce emissions by at least 80pc by 2050 to prevent dangerous climate change will also require investment in public transport, incentivising people to retrofit their properties to make them more efficient, and ban the use of peat for power generation.
A draft National Mitigation Plan published by Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten also says Ireland will have to implement policies to develop housing, schools, shops and social outlets in areas of population to avoid long-distance commuting.
The plan, which is out for public consultation, sets out a range of options to help reduce the use of fossil fuels and move to a 'green' economy in the future.
Options to ban coal and peat and other politically divisive issues are contained in an accompanying document, the Strategic Environmental Assessment, which says they should be considered over the coming years.
"It is clear that there are no easy options to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions on the scale required in the coming decades," Mr Naughten said.
"The options presented in the draft will be complex and often expensive to implement.
"However, in many cases these options will have a range of environmental, economic and other benefits, not just in relation to reducing emissions but also as a potential source of employment or to improve air quality."
Options also include reducing the maximum speed limit on motorways from 120kmh to 110kmh to reduce fuel consumption and transport emissions, and removing public car parking spaces in cities by a "small percentage" every year.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there was "no vision, no ambition, and no real coordination" in the National Mitigation Plan.
It was striking that major increases in emissions from transport and agriculture were forecast out to 2020 but no new policies were suggested to tackle these sectors despite the threat of EU fines for missing agreed targets, Mr Ryan added.