Cities should be car-free on Sundays, the National Youth Assembly on Climate has told the Government in a report.
The Government will consider the recommendations from the report, one of which includes car-free Sundays.
However, senior government sources have moved to downplay the introduction of such an initiative under the 2023 Climate Action Plan, which is due to be published in the coming weeks.
Young climate activists compiled recommendations on how carbon emissions can be cut with this report launched by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman earlier this week.
One of the recommendations is that “car-free Sundays should be introduced”, with a push towards “car-free cities”.
“We need to work towards car free cities,” the report states.
“If you’re cycling in Dublin, you really get the air pollution and it’s also very dangerous. In the countryside if you need a car you should have one – and eventually replace it with an electric. But the infrastructure should be as good as possible [for] car-free Sundays. That happens in other EU cities: on a Sunday you need to access cities by buses.”
Government sources moved to downplay the inclusion of such an initiative in the upcoming 2023 Climate Action Plan, but said there should be an improvement in active travel and public transport resources which would give the public the option to leave their cars at home.
“We have to change the habits of ‘car first’ and have to shift people towards public and shared transport,” a source said.
The Government should also provide support to retrofit older buildings by increasing grants and making loans more accessible, according to the report.
Fast fashion should be “ended” and eco-labels introduced.
There should also be more incentives to move toward sustainable transport, such as electric vehicles.
Effort should be made to reduce the cost of electric vehicles and install more charging stations.
The activists also said that steps to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change should be introduced as urgently as restrictions put in place during the pandemic.