The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says Ireland needs to step up measures on climate, biodiversity and water.

Its latest Environmental Performance Review of Ireland focuses on transport, which it says will be a key area in reducing emissions.

Ireland has one of the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD and the organisation says that transport is a major part of that.

It notes the heavy reliance on the private cars, which accounts for 74% of all passenger journeys.

It recommends gradually increasing taxes on diesel to match those on petrol, and making petrol and diesel cars more expensive to own and run to encourage people to switch to electric.

It commends increased investment in public transport, walking and cycling, and suggests congestion charges and an end to free workplace parking in urban areas.

On water, it says the quality of groundwater supplies has deteriorated due to nitrate pollution.

It says massive investment is needed in water services and suggests the Government reconsiders the issue of domestic water charges.

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On water in Ireland, the OECD Environmental Performance Review says while organic pollution in Ireland's rivers and groundwater supplies remains low by EU standards, water bodies have suffered increasing nutrient pollution and urgent measures are needed.

It also says pressures from chemicals have increased "with some drinking water supplies exceeding pesticide limits".

On water infrastructure it says it is ageing and needs to be upgraded. It says meeting the water infrastructure needs of a growing population and economy will require a much higher level of investment.

It notes that domestic water charges for excessive consumption are due to be introduced next year and says this targets homes where there are leaks. This is expected to apply to 10% of homes which account for 40% of mains consumption.

But it says the funding model may not be able to keep up with the scale of required investment and it suggests that the Government reconsider the issue of domestic water charges.

Presenting the review, OECD Director Rodolfo Lacy said current mobility patterns are a major source of emissions in Ireland and the Government should gradually increase the tax rate on diesel to match petrol, as diesel is a more polluting fuel.

The report also calls for the Government to consider congestion charges, particularly in the greater Dublin area, and address the issue of parking subsidies in the form of free workplace parking.

That could be done through a parking levy or rewards for employees who give up their parking space.

It said while the planning system has improved to promote compact growth, it should be used to ensure any new developments have access to public transport and active travel links.

The report also welcomed increased Government investment in green measures such public transport, active travel and renewable energy, but said it will need to mobilise private finance to achieve sustainable growth targets.

Minster for the Environment, Climate Action and Transport Eamon Ryan welcomed the report and said reallocating road space to public transport and active travel modes such as walking and cycling will be a key priority this summer as people return to work following the pandemic.

Mr Ryan said that in both agriculture and transport the move to greener practices will result in better systems.

On the issue of increasing taxes on diesel, Mr Ryan said he could not predict what will be in the budget this October.

The report recommends that Ireland reduces emissions from agriculture by investing in low-carbon technologies.

Mr Lacy said output could be increased while cutting emissions if better practices are developed.

Mr Ryan added his goal is to see farm incomes rise as emissions are cut and it is about increasing the value of output rather than volume.

In a statement, People Before Profit Paul Murphy TD said "the push by the OECD today for Ireland to re-introduce water charges should be completely rejected".

"If the government are considering this, they would be advised to re-watch last night's Reeling in the Years show on 2014 to remind themselves of the kind of mass opposition which defeated water charges then.

"Any attempt to re-introduce them now would be met with a similar mass movement."