BY Rachel Cunningham
This week’s power special explores the topic of transport, which accounts for one-fifth of Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities.
Last week, the Joint Committee on the Environment and Climate Action called for radical changes in Ireland’s approach to transport if the country is to meet its target of a 51 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
The committee launched its report on reducing emissions in the transport sector on June 3, the first of a series of sector analyses on how Ireland will achieve its emission lowering targets. Among the report’s recommendations was a review of future road construction projects and the reallocation of the funds of these projects to more sustainable initiatives, the development of cycling superhighways and the possible instigation of a free public transport system.
Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Brian Leddin outlined the ‘avoid-shift-improve’ approach, which was a key theme from the committee.
“Our report seeks to embed this approach into our transport and mobility infrastructure planning. Reducing transport demand must be the first and key priority, followed by shifting carbon-intensive journeys to zero carbon modes such as walking and cycling, and by providing sustainable public transport in both rural and urban areas.”
The European Commission on Energy has stated that Europe’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions from transport will need to be at least 60 per cent said lower than it was in 1990 and firmly on the path towards a zero emission target.
According to the Sustainable Energy Authority Of Ireland (SEAI), Ireland’s transport sector places the largest demands on energy and is the most sensitive to the economy. Over the past three decades, it has grown or reduced in response to economic growth or contraction, while the energy demand from transport increased by a significant 183 per cent between 1990 and 2007.
This feature focuses on how changes to Ireland’s personal and public transportation could help us to meet the 2050 target of producing zero emission. Beyond this goal, lowering emissions will mean that Dubliners can enjoy improvements in health, air quality, reductions in noise levels, lower congestion levels and an overall safer environment to live and commute in.