More frequent public transport to be part of plan to tackle climate change

Tension expected over which department is responsible for reducing certain emissions

The  Government’s  plan to tackle climate change will restate ambitions to significantly increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, with a more aggressive approach to be taken in the area of public transport. Photograph: Getty Images

The Government’s plan to tackle climate change will restate ambitions to significantly increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, with a more aggressive approach to be taken in the area of public transport. Photograph: Getty Images

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A significant investment in and focus on increasing the frequency of public transport will form part of the Government’s latest plan to tackle climate change.

Sources said a lot of work on the Climate Action Plan, which could be published next month, has been done, and that it will chart a path towards reducing carbon emissions by 51 per cent by 2030.

It is expected that reductions for the electricity sector will surpass the 51 per cent target, but that those for agriculture and food production will not. Offshore wind and solar initiatives will do a lot of the “heavy lifting”, one source said.

The plan represents “a serious step-up in terms of ambition and activity”, the source said, and will signal the actions that will be needed across all sectors of society.

It will restate ambitions to significantly increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, with a more aggressive approach to be taken in the area of public transport. This should see increased frequency on bus, train and other public transport services.

Measures to encourage households to retrofit their buildings to B2 building standards are likely be included, and there will also be a focus on promoting the use of heat pumps.

The plan has not yet been approved by Government, and will likely go to Cabinet in September. A dedicated Cabinet committee on climate action will hold a series of meetings beforehand to finalise each department’s targets.

“The detail will be put together then, and these will be amongst the most demanding decisions that the Government will make,” a source said.

Tensions are expected to arise on the question of which department is responsible for reducing certain emission types and meeting the associated targets.

Home-building was noted as one potential area of difficulty as emissions from it can be high, but the housing crisis has created a demand that must be met.

Emissions

The plan is also likely to include a focus on driving down emissions arising from the production of materials such as cement and alumina.

The National Development Plan, which is also likely to be published next month, will detail proposals for roads, public transport, regional development and infrastructure.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this week that “the time to act is now” as he pledged Government action on climate change.

He was speaking following the release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned that major climate disruption is inevitable and, in many instances, irreversible.

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