I propose to take Questions Nos. 821 and 822 together.
The recently published Climate Action Plan sets out a whole-of-Government approach to climate action and maps a potential pathway to meet Ireland’s 2030 emission reduction commitments. The Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. As the transport sector accounts for a little over one quarter of Ireland’s non-ETS emissions there is no question that it must feature strongly in the national decarbonisation effort.
Cutting congestion is an action which would contribute positively to the decarbonisation effort. Congestion also imposes significant costs on residents, commuters and businesses in urban areas. My Department is already seeking to address congestion and its negative impacts by encouraging modal shift away from private passenger cars towards public and active travel. To this end, a significant investment of €8.6 billion is being made to increase the capacity and attractiveness of sustainable mobility under the National Development Plan 2018-27 as part of Project Ireland 2040 .
The potential roles of congestion pricing, low-emission zones and demand management were considered during the development of the Climate Action Plan and consequently, Action 81 calls for the development of a regulatory framework on low emission zones and parking pricing policies, the granting of local authorities with the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero-emission vehicles only, and the examination of the role of demand management measures in Irish cities, including low emission zones and parking pricing policies. My Department has lead responsibility for the implementation of this action. Later this year, and in collaboration with the local authorities and the NTA, we will commission a study to:
- Consider key management drivers in an Irish context (e.g. congestion, air quality, climate considerations);
- Review international best practices on measures such as urban congestion charging, low emission zones and parking pricing policies; and
- Recommend the most appropriate responses for Dublin/Cork/Galway/Limerick taking into account overall transport strategies in each case.
Stakeholder consultation will need to be undertaken as part of this Demand Management study. Implementation of required and most appropriate measures in each case will have regard to existing powers of local authorities, including those reserved to elected members. I will work closely with Minister Murphy and his Department if additional legislation or local authority functions are identified as providing pathways for addressing these problems.