Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has confirmed that “Current and planned policies and measures are not sufficient to meet the 2020 targets, with emissions projected to continue to increase out to 2030 and beyond.”
Transport emissions are increasing
Rather than decreasing, Ireland’s transport emissions are actually increasing which means we are polluting more than when we agreed the 2020 targets in the first instance. The EPA estimates that between 2016 & 2030, transport related emissions will increase by almost 13%. This means we will likely miss our renewed 2030 emissions targets unless drastic action is taken to tackle this issue.
Consequences of missing our targets
Economic consequences: The Irish government therefore taxpayer will be fined millions of euro by the EU & we will have to purchase carbon credits from other countries to offset our pollution. This money is gone & has to come from our tight “fiscal space” spending budget. What school, hospital or other stretched services are going to be cut to pay for poor public policy?
Environmental consequences: Air quality is poorer which can lead to health issues for many individuals as our air is too polluted. We are continuing to pollute the atmosphere too much which not only impacts people living in Ireland but elsewhere.
Global consequences: Ireland tries to market itself as a “green” country for its food & tourism. If we continue to pursue policies of encouraging & not tackling environmental issues in a serious manner, we risk damaging our vital food & tourism industries.
Political consequences: As a country we are seen as delinquents when it comes to international legal agreements especially with our European partners in the EU.
How can cycling help?
Encouraging more people to cycle a bicycle to work, school or the local shop on a regular basis instead of using the car can play a significant part in cutting transport related emissions. Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s News at One programme (13 April 2017), EPA Director General Laura Burke stated
“Cycling initiatives are great options and then support people to move away from fossil cars”.
The challenge is that national & local public policy is not currently supportive of sufficient investment in safe cycling infrastructure across Ireland. Small countries such as The Netherlands & Denmark are very advanced with developing cycling infrastructure & have been doing so for decades. We do not need to re-model or create new ways to develop sufficient infrastructure, we have two very experienced countries who can show us how it is done. All that is needed in a change in public policy making in Ireland & sufficient investment. We are going to have to pay millions of euro in fines & carbon credits which gets us nothing physically in Ireland – it is a waste of money. Those millions should be spent on Irish infrastructure to encourage more cycling & less carbon emmissions!