Ireland’s climate reduction targets for transport are ‘unmanageable and unachievable’, according to Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae.
The independent TD is accusing the Government of attempting to tax struggling families out of their cars without putting in place proper alternatives.
He was speaking as the Transport Minister Eamon Ryan prepares to bring a memo to Cabinet setting out ways the country can cut its transport emissions in half by 2030.
The plan reportedly aims to give priority to public transport, cycling and walking as the Government aims to offer people viable alternatives to using their car.
Modelling work has been carried out looking at options including congestion charges, town and city pedestrianisation, fuel price increases, higher car parking charges and fuel price increases.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Green Party transport spokesman Brian Leddin said the memo does not make any hard proposals – but begins a year-long process of examining different things that could be done to reduce emissions in the short and longer term.
“There is an awful lot we can do to change our society from one that is very car-dependent to one that isn’t,” he said.
“That is in our towns and cities but also in rural Ireland as well.”
He pointed to new bus services being rolled out in rural areas including in Kerry – noting that, “This is a solution for rural Ireland that is being rolled out and does work so there are loads we can do and will do to change how we get around in rural Ireland.”
Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae accused to Government of, “trying to make it a criminal act to drive your motorcar”.
“It is ridiculous at this time in life to be saying to struggling families we are going to tax you out of your motorcar,” he said.
“It is not a criminal offence to need or to want or to have to have a car to service you and your household and your family.
“What this Government is nearly proposing now is that we are going to make it, nearly, a criminal act to want to drive your own car.
“We can’t all get up on a bicycle and cycle around to where we want to go or walk to where we want to go.”
The Kerry TD said the State target of cutting transport emissions in half by 2030 is “unmanageable and is not achievable”.
“This is coming at a time when families are struggling to pay their ESB bills,” he said.
“Transport costs are gone through the roof and we see now this discussion on increasing car parking charges by hundreds of per cent, putting maybe a €10 daily charge for driving into cities.
“Yes of course the positive side of it would be halving the public transport fares but that is not much use to you if you are living in rural Ireland.
“If you are living along the west coast or in South Kerry for example, telling people we will reduce the cost of public transport charges isn’t going to do much for you if the cost of fuel is going up.”
It is believed the new strategy will take at least a year to be devised and agreed upon, with the suggestions contained in the memo just some of the options Government will consider.