Green Party senator calls for government to prioritise family life over cars
"Millions of euros are invested in roads and cars every year and to what end?"
Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly has criticised the Government for over-investing in cars and roads and has called for a "significant" shift to prioritise investment in family life instead.
Her comments come following the publication of the 'Report on Reducing Emissions in the Transport Sector by 51% by 2030’ from the Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action.
The committee’s report, which has had cross-party agreement, calls for a review of all planned road construction projects.
This is with a view to reallocate funding to sustainable transport schemes, to consider road charging and mileage reduction targets, to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and the electrification of commuter rail lines and to immediately expand public transport measures for rural and dispersed communities.
O'Reilly said in a statement: “We need to start putting families, children and work-life balance first in Ireland. Millions of euros are invested in roads and cars every year and to what end? It results in poor air quality, hours commuting and infrastructure not fit for purpose for cyclists and pedestrians.
"The Government has committed to a reduction in carbon emissions of 51% in the transport sector by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. We need to look at ambitious and innovative responses that will fundamentally reform how we live our lives in a way that is child and family-friendly and protects our environment into the future.”
Meanwhile, Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action chairperson and Green Party TD Brian Leddin commented: “Ireland has the fourth-highest level of transport emissions per capita in Europe and the transport sector is responsible for around 20% of our overall CO2 emissions with private cars being the largest contributors.
"Taking into account projected population growth and, in turn, economic growth in the coming decades, Ireland will face a significant challenge in decarbonisation of the transport sector.”
The committee's report also recommends the reallocation of investment set for future road construction projects to remote-working hubs and sustainable transport and the reallocation of road space away from private cars towards sustainable transport modes in cities, towns and villages.
It also calls for the development of family-friendly cycling infrastructure and of cycling superhighways akin to those in Denmark and London.
The Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill is currently in the third stage of its journey through the Houses of the Oireachtas, with the report to form part of the recommendations in the implementation of the bill.