‘Doomed to fail’ – Wicklow motor dealers say car emission targets are ‘a write-off’
The targets set out in the current Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the reduction of Ireland’s car emissions are “unrealistic and doomed to fail”, according to local motor dealers.
A new group calling itself the Irish Car Carbon Reduction Alliance (ICCRA), which says it represents the majority of car dealers in Wicklow and across the country, said the plan “is flawed as it is based on inaccurate and incomplete information”.
The ICCRA also claimed the plan fails to tackle the underlying reasons behind the country’s high level of car emissions and, until such time as it does, the country will continue to fail to achieve the CAP’s targets.
It is calling for a review of the CAP and the introduction of more realistic, yet ambitious targets for emissions and Electric Vehicles (EVs), as well as urgent consultation with the motoring sector so a realistic, pragmatic plan to reduce emissions from cars can be achieved.
ICCRA spokesperson Brendan Walsh said: “There are only two ways to reduce emissions from transport in Ireland – reduce the number of journeys by car and/or drive more fuel-efficient cars.”
According to Mr Walsh, economics and the latest engineering must inform climate action policy to ensure success, yet the current CAP ignores both.
“There is a sense of déjà vu about the targets. In 2008, the then Government set a target of having 250,000 electric cars on the road by 2020. Currently there are 8,124. It’s very easy to set targets but very difficult to achieve them without a clearly defined strategy. We wish to support the Government’s targets in the development of such a strategy, one that is scientific, data-driven and pragmatic so that real and lasting reductions can be made.
“We recognise urgent action is required across all sectors of the Irish economy, including the motor sector, so that everyone plays their part in protecting our planet. Ireland’s car ownership per head of population is one of the lowest in Europe. Yet, we have one of the highest carbon emissions per car in Europe due to our rural transport infrastructure, which is responsible for an average annual mileage that is 1.5 times the EU average.
“Reducing emissions to CAP targets would require a sweeping reduction in the number of car journeys made, especially in rural Ireland, where, understandably, motorists drive more than their urban counterparts. But the public transport infrastructure isn’t there to support such drastic changes. While better public transport may happen over time and would be very welcome, it will be far too late to meet the current emission targets.”
The ICCRA said that for the plan to have an immediate and lasting impact it must encourage motorists to drive more fuel-efficient cars, which requires a comprehensive reform of the Vehicle Registration Tax System.
Consumer confusion over engine choices and Electric Vehicles (EVs) along with the relatively high cost of EV cars are major challenges at present, but the ICCRA said that with “decisive Government support” they can be resolved quickly, resulting in significantly lower emissions.
New research for ICCRA shows over half the population [53%] are confused about the various car options on the market and their impact on the environment. According to Mr Walsh, the continuing decline in new car registrations, which was detected before the Coronavirus pandemic reached Ireland, is a direct result of this confusion, as motorists are sticking with their current older car, which has higher carbon emissions, instead of switching to a newer model.
“The Climate Action Plan is feeding this confusion,” he added.