Car pollution must be cut by half in 15 years: report
The volume of emissions from road traffic must be halved by 2025 if Northern Ireland is to meet its climate change targets, official predictions have revealed.
Further increases will significantly undermine the Executive's ability to meet its overall aims, a report from the Department for Regional Development (DRD) warned.
Pollutants from transport increased significantly since 1990, affecting progress in other areas, the paper added. There has been a notable increase in rural driving and transport for construction materials.
The DRD review said: “While it may be possible to pursue more ambitious reductions in other sectors to address potential shortfalls in transport, the fact remains that further increases in road transport emissions will significantly undermine the potential to successfully realise the Executive's targets and commitments in this area.
“Transport must therefore play its part. Indeed the outworking of the Climate Change Act, the Renewable Energy Directive and related legislation are likely to require action to reduce emissions from road transport.”
A rapidly growing population and economic growth following the end of the conflict contributed to past increases in demand for transport, the dossier added. Within freight transport there has been a particular rise in light goods vehicle traffic. Total greenhouse gas emissions from road transport increased by 53% between 1990 and 2006.
The paper, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Transport, added: “The scale of the challenge is considerable, but it is unlikely to decrease in magnitude in the absence of a concerted policy response.
“Moreover, it will require a focus on all areas of transport including freight.”
It said traffic speeds decreased by 12% from 2001 to 2007.
“Increased journey times have a significant economic and environmental impact, reducing productivity as workers and goods spend more time travelling, and increasing the costs and environmental impacts of travel as more fuel is consumed.
“There is also clear evidence that the provision of extra road capacity in conditions of actual or expected congestion has consistently lead to greater volumes of traffic and cannot be provided in line with rates of traffic growth.”
The DRD committee at Stormont takes evidence from officials about the report today.