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Transport and Air Quality

Tips and advice on reducing the impact of your car on the environment.

Transport, and in particular car driving, has a number of negative environmental impacts:

  • Transport is a major contributor of CO2 emissions, and in Ireland, emissions from transport are growing at a faster rate than any other sector
  • Transport fuels such as petrol or diesel are expensive imports, accompanied by their own environmental impacts in extraction, refining and shipping. Added to this are concerns associated with the depletion of scarce natural resources. The fuels used in transport are not renewable, and supplies will eventually run out
  • Air pollution from busy roads can be very significant, causing serious health damage, making towns and cities unpleasant, harming wildlife and damaging buildings

Emissions from cars

A new vehicle labelling system was applied to all new cars from 1 July 2008. At the same time, the government introduced changes to Vehicle Registration Tax and annual motor tax for new cars registered on or after 1 July 2008.

Both taxes are calculated on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles rather than engine size. Seven emission/tax bands have been created and VRT and motor tax payable are determined by the relevant band for each vehicle. A key element of the whole initiative to rebalance the VRT and motor tax regimes on the basis of CO2 emissions is the introduction of a new labelling system designed to reflect the seven emission/tax bands.

The purpose of these changes is to incentivise consumers to purchase vehicles with lower CO2 emissions, an important step in reducing national greenhouse gas emissions and in meeting Ireland’s commitments for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol.

Read more information on climate change.

Travelling tips

By taking care about the way you drive, you use less fuel, save money and reduce polluting emissions from your car. Eco-driving means smooth and safe driving at lower engine revolutions. It also means choosing a car that consumes less fuel, and sharing car journeys when you can.

  • Cycle or walk to your destination whenever possible. The exercise is great for you
  • Make sure you buy a car with good fuel efficiency. Stay away from SUVs
  • Share car journeys when you can. Organise car pools for regular commutes
  • When you drive, shift into a higher gear quickly. For petrol cars, shift up before 2500 rpm and for diesel by 2000 rpm
  • Don't be an aggressive driver. Studies show that fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic, and accelerating to and from a stop sign or traffic light don't save much time, but do waste fuel (as much as 12%) and wear out your brakes and tyres faster. Accelerate smoothly and brake gradually
  • Driving between 65 and 80 km/hr, where safe and practicable, will reduce emissions compared to higher speeds
  • Keep your car regularly maintained and serviced for better fuel economy and lower emissions
  • Keep tyres inflated to the correct pressure - it will lengthen their life, make your car safer, and reduce fuel consumption
  • Don't carry unnecessary loads in the boot or on the roof - it increases fuel consumption.
  • Close the widows and use the vents instead. Leaving a front window half open increases your fuel consumption by 5-10%

More information