Ireland commits to 100% zero emissions from transport 

By Jane Byrne

Ireland’s new climate change plan shows major changes for public transport and electric vehicles. 

The UN Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Party (COP26) recently took place in Glasgow. To combat climate change, COP26 accelerated plans for 100% zero emissions from cars and vans. Zero emissions from cars and vans refers to a vehicle that produces zero greenhouse gas emissions at the tailpipe. 

Participating countries have committed to achieving this by 2040 globally and by 2035 for leading markets. This comes because of the target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51% by 2030. 

Ireland was one of many governments that signed this agreement. The new government climate plan has set the target of a reduction in half a million car journeys per day by 2030 which will result in half a million more daily journeys completed by either walking, cycling or on public transport. Furthermore, they are committed to reducing transport emissions by 42-50%. 

Speaking at the conference, The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan said it’s up to us to create an Ireland “where walking and cycling are safe and accessible, public transport is greener and more frequent, and the rollout of electric vehicles is supported nationwide.”

These targets for Ireland will be achieved in two main ways. The first is by creating a sustainable public transport system. This will be achieved by increasing public transport, rail, and bus electrification, including 1,500 extra electric buses and better rural links. 

The second way the target will be achieved is by an increase in electric vehicles (EV), on Irish roads. 

Sales of electric vehicles in Ireland hit record numbers for the first quarter of 2021. According to statistics given to The City by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), there were 27,790 EVs on Irish roads in 2020. By the end of October in 2021 there were 46,615 EVs on Irish roads. Both these figures are a massive increase from 2019 when only 15,370 EVs were recorded. Currently there are approximately 1200 public electric chargers in Ireland. 

Speaking to SEAI’s EV programme manager, Shane Prendergast, he discusses the potential figures for 2022. 

“We can expect approx close to 100k EVs or more potentially. However, you also have to take into account a number of factors: Semiconductor delay affects vehicle production across the entire industry, Ireland is a small market and Ireland is a right-hand drive market compared to the vast majority globally which are left hand drive markets.” 

Currently the Government has set targets of 180,000 EVs on the roads by 2025 and 936,000 by 2030. This will be equivalent to one-third of the 2.8 million vehicles that are currently on the road in Ireland. Ireland has also set itself the target of ending the sale of cars powered just by fossil fuels by 2030.

Environmental awareness, more choice and economically more viable in the long term are all factors towards the sale of EVs in Ireland. 

Currently, there is a government grant available of up to €5,000 on battery operated cars over €20,000. Cars under €14,000 currently do not qualify for the scheme. There is also a €600 grant available for electric car owners to help cover the purchase and installation of home charger systems. However, in the latest budget the government removed the purchase incentive offered to buyers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The payment that was originally €5,000 was cut to €2,500 before it was scrapped completely. With ambitious targets, many argue cutting the grants are discouraging people from purchasing electric powered or hybrid vehicles. 

COP26 shone a light on the environmental crisis currently facing humanity. Arguably transport plays a major role in combating climate change however we can prepare to see major changes across all sectors in Ireland in the coming years. 

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