Roads funding needs to be diverted to pay for public transport, and inner Dublin's "miserable" one-way street system must be overhauled, Minister for Natural Resources Eamon Ryan told a Dublin audience last night.
The Green Minister also said that Ireland needs a carbon tax to meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases.
"I think we do need to put a price on carbon," Mr Ryan told an audience of several hundred people last night.
The Minister was speaking alongside politicians from all the major political parties at an event organised by lobby group People Against Climate Change.
Ireland is obliged to reduce its carbon emissions from 70 million tonnes per year to 48 million by 2020 - a 3 per cent drop every year. At the moment the State's carbon output is growing, not shrinking.
Mr Ryan had several practical measures for stemming the flow: "We have to switch over road programmes into public transport programmes that deliver. We need to get rid of our totally unintelligent system. Talking about Dublin, we should change the one-way system that really does make Dublin a miserable place for pedestrians and cyclists."
Ireland's planning system also needs to be overhauled, the Minister aid. "This disparate form of population growth is not working. We need a much more compact, high-quality urban planning system."
Debates about the impact of climate change have become redundant, he said. "There hasn't been a single frost this winter. Irish people can see it for themselves," said Mr Ryan.
Other politicians at last night's event also spoke of specific measures to reduce the State's carbon output. PD Senator Fiona O'Malley said that university research laboratories need to work arm-in-arm with businesses to develop more environmentally friendly ways of operating.
She said an outer-urban bus system in Dublin should operate separately from an inner service, meaning commuters would catch two buses to get to work. Fine Gael's Simon Coveney called for the end of peat-burning power plants. "It's a filthy fuel source," he said. Sinn Féin's Bairbre de Brún said Ireland's car dependency needed to be broken, and said that people who take two overseas holidays a year don't realise how much their lifestyle is damaging the environment.
The Irish Times