Reduction to motorway speed limits among recommendations to reduce carbon emissions

A reduction in the motorway speed limit is just one of the climate-change measures which will be brought before the Cabinet later today.

As many as 106 actions and measures are outlined in a national mitigation-plan report for Ireland to transition to a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable economy by 2050.

This will be published as ministers assess the proposals and consider what can or cannot be implemented.

One radical recommendation to reduce carbon output is a reduction in the speed limit on motorways, to 110kph for cars and to 80kph for heavy-goods vehicles.

Elsewhere, the report suggests that there is a need to incentivise the purchase of low-carbon vehicles.

All new cars and vans sold from 2030 would be zero-emission or zero-emission capable.

The plan considers ways of reducing car park spaces in urban areas to make space for more environmentally friendly facilities, such as bike storage units, walkways, or public transport space.

Oisin Coghlan, the Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, has outlined what he wants.

He said: "We hope to see new measures and policies across all sectors of the economy to reduce Ireland's climate pollution.

"So we need to see measures in transport, in energy, in our homes and offices and in agriculture to begin to reduce our emissions.

"We've a long way to go, but we've got to start and so far Ireland hasn't started, and we need to see a big plan to get us on the road."

Opposition TD Brid Smith pointed out that Ireland is one of two countries in Europe who will fail to meet our targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 under the Paris agreement.

Furthermore, she said we will not reach our own targets that we set to reach by 2050.

"It'll work out not just more expensive, but more damaging to the environment unless we step up to the plate and make some radical changes," said Ms Smith.

There have been calls in recent months for more incentives for buying electric cars. Some critics of the Government have pointed to Norway, where such car-owners have access to free parking, as well as free tolling.

The plan also proposes measures for the built environment, including minimal thermal standards in rental properties.

This could include a ban on landlords renting out properties with low BER.

More retrofitting and better insulation of homes should also be incentivised, it states.

One suggestion includes adapting buildings, or clusters of properties, where environmentally friendly measures, such as solar panelling, would be applied across structures.

Officials say ministers, including those specifically in transport, housing, and agriculture, will be asked to buy into these proposals.

For the first time ever, the upcoming budget will have ring-fenced climate-change proposals.

While sections of the mitigation plan were revealed last March, some criticism of the measures included that they had limited target dates or specific commitments.

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