The EPA’s damning indictment of our transport system’s contribution to poor air quality in Ireland underlies the urgent need to move away from polluting diesel and petrol vehicles.
The environmental watchdog’s report on air quality in Ireland released today singles out traffic as a key pressure on air quality in our largest cities. 
The transport sector accounts for 21 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, with private cars accounting for over half of total transport emissions. 
The EPA reports states that we have breached WHO guideline values for nitrogen dioxide – mainly from vehicle exhaust emission – and could exceed less stringent EU limit “if vehicle numbers continue to rise”.
The Environmental Pillar supports the EPA’s call for “a transition in our modes of transport away from the use of the private diesel and petrol powered motor cars” to a more sustainable model.
The Pillar – a coalition of 30 national environmental groups – proposed the inclusion of measures to equalise the cost of diesel and petrol in Ireland (excluding agricultural diesel) in Budget 2018. 
This would have ensured that Ireland takes progressive steps to catch up with the rest of Europe who are moving away from the combustion engine.
Transport experts told the Citizens’ Assembly this weekend that the number of cars on Irish roads is predicted to increase from 2 million in 2016 to over 3 million in 2050 in line with the economic recovery. 
The 75 citizens on the Assembly voted in favour of a recommendation to increase the market share of electric vehicles, which includes an increase in both the petrol and diesel levy. 
Environmental Pillar budget spokesperson, Mindy O’Brien said:
“As the Citizens Assembly told us this weekend, a complete transformation of the Irish transport sector away from the private car to sustainable public transport networks is vital.
“We need to catch up with the rest of Europe who are moving away from the combustion engine and taking progressive steps toward phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars.
“Diesel is charged at 11c less per litre than petrol in Ireland and as a result, we have one of the highest percentage sales of diesel cars in Europe. This needs to change and fast.
“Unfortunately we did not see any moves toward disincentivising diesel use in Budget 2018, despite the growing body of evidence on the damaging impact of its use on our climate and health.
“Although the Government decided to go down another line in the Budget, we are hopeful that the damning EPA findings, coupled with the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations, will make our leaders listen.”
 Environmental Protection Agency. Air Quality in Ireland 2016. https://goo.gl/Xnax7c
 Anne Graham, National Transport Authority. https://goo.gl/bmsyrk
 Environmental Pillar Budget 2018 Submission. https://goo.gl/naEwLj
 Dr Brian Caulfield, TCD at Citizens’ Assembly. https://goo.gl/nvAoYH
 Ballot results from Citizens’ Assembly. https://goo.gl/EQpRTc