I propose to take Questions Nos. 450, 462, 463, 479 and 480 together.
The implementation of the Climate Action will significantly improve air quality. In particular, the Climate Action Plan sets out the necessary actions to:
- Put 180,000 electric vehicles on our roads by 2025 and almost 1m by 2030
- Ensure the EV charging network underpins public confidence
- Create an early public procurement framework for EVs
- Accelerate steps to decarbonise the public transport fleet
- Establish a Cycling Project Office, develop a 5 year cycling strategy and roll out 200km of new cycle lanes through bus connects
- A new Park and Ride Strategy to be developed, to reduce congestion and lower journey times
- Develop a regulatory framework on low emission zones and parking pricing policies, and provide local authorities with the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero emission vehicles only
- No new fossil fuel vehicles sold from 2030
Currently 40% of homes use coal and peat to heat their homes (many in combination with other fossil fuel heating systems). By 2030, we will upgrade a third of all homes to at least a B2 energy standard, installing approximately 400,000 heat pumps. Currently over 99% of our vehicle fleet is fuelled by fossil fuels. By 2030, nearly a million fully electric or hybrid vehicles (35%-40%) will be on our roads. These measures will significantly improve air quality by reducing emissions of harmful pollutants.
In relation to the Clean Air Strategy, it will provide an overarching policy framework within which clean air policies can be formulated and given effect across Government in a manner consistent with national priorities, EU and other international policy considerations. The Clean Air Strategy will address a range of harmful air pollutants in Ireland, including those arising from the agricultural, transport and residential heating sectors, in an integrated manner.
Given the wide range of pollutant sources, it is important that action is coordinated across various sectors. In this regard, the Department consulted widely, including with other Departments, State Agencies, and industry bodies on the formulation of the Cleaning Our Air issues paper, which was itself the subject of a public consultation. In addition, a number of plans have been under development recently, including the National Air Pollution Control Programme, the National Energy and Climate Plan, and the Climate Action Plan, which are relevant to the clean air agenda. I am keen to ensure that synergies are maximised between these plans and the National Clean Air Strategy, with a view to achieving lasting reductions in the health and environmental impacts of air pollution. I am committed to publishing the National Clean Air Strategy at the earliest opportunity.