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, particularly in urban areas, is an action which would contribute positively to the decarbonisation effort. Congestion also imposes significant costs on residents, commuters and businesses. My Department is already seeking to address congestion and its negative impacts by encouraging modal shift away from private passenger car towards public and active travel. To this end, a significant investment of €8.6 billion is earmarked to be made in increasing the capacity and attractiveness of sustainable mobility under the National Development Plan 2018-27 as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Road pricing has been used by a number of countries as a transport demand management tool in order to address traffic congestion or other social and environmental negative externalities. As such, the potential role of road pricing and congestion charging has been identified by the Climate Action Plan and Action 81 commits to examining a range of demand management measures for Irish cities. To this end, my Department, in collaboration with the local authorities, will commission a study later this year to:
- Consider key demand 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/Waterford 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.