There will be a number of “tests” to see if the long-delayed Climate Action Plan, due for release on Wednesday, will be effective, according to Friends of the Earth, an environmental charity.
A ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2026, targeted EV loans for people living in rural Ireland, cycle routes to all schools. more school buses, and both more and cheaper public transport are some of the measures which the charity wants to see in the plan..
“Now is the time for a revolution in transport – the transport sector will need to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 to align with the binding sectoral emission ceiling for the sector. This would mean an extra 125,000 active and public transport trips per day in 2025, said Friends of the Earth.
“The Climate Action Plan should support regions, cities, towns and villages to end the dominance of the car through the provision of integrated, shared mobility planning, active travel infrastructure, congestion charges, EV loans for those living in rural Ireland, and banning the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2026,” it said.
The group said: “The school run is one of the main reasons for short car trips. The Action Plan must make is possible, safe and convenient for every child to get to school without using a car by September 2023. A free school bus place should be guaranteed for all children who live more than 1km away from school, and focus should be placed onbuilding safe routes for cycling and walking within a 3km radius of every school. Engine idling should also be banned near schools.”
Friends of the Earth said that both more and cheaper public transport was needed, not one or the other.
“A recent study found that over 61% of workers used private vehicles to travel to work. This is very likely to be even higher in rural areas that are poorly served by public transport and safe cycling options. The Climate Action Plan should put forward a plan to trial a scheme similar to Germany’s €9-a-month here for 6 months,” said the environmental charity.
It said that it is “crucial” that the Climate Action Plan outlines a clear plan on how “the most polluting cars, especially SUVs, will be removed from our city streets as soon as possible”.
It said this should include the a congestion charge for cities which includes emissions and weight. Such a fee should start in Dublin and be extended“as more public transport comes on stream.”
It said that a “Tailored responses is needed for urban and rural areas”.
Friends of the Earth added: “We are mindful that the carrots and sticks should not be applied to rural and urban areas in the same way. Car dependency, and therefore increased taxation on cars and fuel, is particularly challenging for rural areas given that rural communities often have few alternatives. The Action Plan should support the upgrading and expanding of cheap, frequent and reliable public transport across rural Ireland and examine the potential for state-backed interest-free loans for EVs for relevant households.”