There has been for some time talk about the need to cut down the muck pumped into the air by idling — running a car engine while not moving — but that’s all it’s been: talk.
It’s not a good look for a country that in 2019 exceeded its greenhouse gas allocation against targets set by the EU by 5m tonnes.
So much, then, for the government on its current form to getting close to meeting its target of carbon neutrality by 2050.
A campaign launched by IrishEVs.com — a website that promotes the switch to electric cars — for a law that would make engine idling an offence is therefore worthy of consideration, rather than the inevitable scorn the idea is likely to receive.
The statistics in support of a crackdown on idling are persuasive: the equivalent of taking 320,000 cars off the road could be achieved if every driver on every day of the year reduced engine idling by only three minutes.
That would cut the country’s CO2 emissions by 1.4m tonnes annually, contributing to much needed improvements in public health.
The problem for the government with a no-idling law would be enforcement.
That has been the experience in Britain, where €22.45 fixed penalty fines can be imposed by traffic wardens and police on drivers caught idling unnecessarily, but also where local authorities and police forces lack either the resources or will to enforce the law.
Our next government should summon both the will and — despite the demands on public funds — resources needed to meet the challenge.