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Growing Irish vehicle use threatens national climate change target

Words: Roger Milne

Officials from the Republic of Ireland’s transport department have warned that the country’s growing population and increasing vehicle use are making it difficult for the state to meet its 2020 climate change targets.

Ireland's efforts to meet EU targets in the fight against global warming are set to be hindered by an anticipated increase of up to 23 per cent in emissions as more cars and lorries take to the roads over the next six years.

Difficulties developing more public transport use in rural areas will also increase the challenge of reaching the targets, the department of transport's sustainable transport division has warned in a briefing document for the new transport minister Paschal Donohoe.

Ireland has been set a target of reducing transport, household, industry and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. Officials described the targets set for Ireland as "very ambitious" and warned there was "a significant risk of a material shortfall in emissions reductions and renewable energy targets by 2020".

The document pointed out that: "Transport emissions are closely coupled to economic growth and the Environmental Protection Agency's projections reflect this with transport emissions projected to show strong growth over the period to 2020 with a 15 per cent to 23 per cent increase on current levels."

The document added: "In terms of emission abatement, Ireland's dispersed settlement patterns and lack of urban areas with the critical mass to support efficient public transport systems present a particular challenge."