Drive to ban sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2030
2030 legal cut-off to be fast-tracked Minister's move as election looms
Radical laws to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 are being drafted by the Government, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Climate action minister Richard Bruton has instructed his officials to prepare legislation enforcing the ban, with a view to publishing the new laws early in the New Year.
The minister plans to include the landmark environmental legislation in the soon-to-be published Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Legislation banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by the end of the next decade will be drafted in conjunction with other departments before being brought to Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks.
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The Government's Climate Action Plan initially set a target of introducing laws implementing the ban by the end of 2020, but Mr Bruton is now fast-tracking the process as the General Election approaches.
The legislation could be debated in the Dail before the election if Fine Gael and Fianna Fail agree to go to the polls in either April or May. However, it is unlikely to be enacted before the country votes.
The cross-party Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action agreed earlier this year that the Government should move toward banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars, which means the main political parties have agreed to move toward electric vehicles.
The new laws are aimed at encouraging motorists to switch to electric vehicles and will be combined with a major investment in charging points around the country. However, there are currently only around 3,400 fully electric vehicles and 10,175 hybrids on the roads.
Recent figures show there are 2.1 million cars on Irish roads and it is estimated that this will increase to between 2.3 and 2.6 million by 2030.
The Government's Climate Action Plan has set a target for around 840,000 cars to be either fully electric or hybrid models by the end of the next decade. This would mean that between 35 and 40pc of all cars would be electric within 10 years.
There are also plans for new regulations which would assist in increasing the number of charging points for electric vehicles.
New construction rules will require all new residential buildings with more than 10 parking spaces to include at least one space where a charging point could be installed in the future.
All new non-residential buildings and those undergoing major renovations will be required to install at least one charging point for every 10 spaces and include a duct for future installation in every five spaces.
From 2025, all non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces will be required to install a yet-to-be decided minimum number of electric vehicle charging points.
The Government is hoping for a significant increase in the number of people buying electric vehicles when the cost of owning and driving an environmentally friendly car is on a par with petrol and diesel cars.
Research by business news agency Bloomberg suggests large electric vehicles in the European Union will be cheaper than fossil-fuel equivalents by 2022.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Shane Ross has insisted that the Government will have a million electric cars on the road before the ban is put in place in 10 years' time.
"On electric cars, we've made commitments to a million by 2030," Mr Ross told the Sunday Independent. "That's an incredible commitment, which is going to be difficult to meet but it's something we're determined to do and it's a commitment we're going to keep."
The minister also said it was the Government's policy to "get people out of their cars" but conceded that he does not expect to see an end any time soon to the traffic gridlock that most cities are experiencing.
"You can't sort out traffic like we've got overnight because it's symptomatic of the incredible success that we've had as a nation in economic recovery," Mr Ross said.
"You can't widen every road. You can't cut down every tree. What you can do is say the policy is to get people out of their cars."
Mr Ross said the "projections are good" for reducing the number of cars on the roads but added that "nobody could expect traffic to come off the roads in a matter of six months".
He also said he believed public transport was safe despite the huge number of passengers on trains and buses every morning and evening during rush hour.
"They're packed but do I worry about them for safety? No, I don't worry about safety. It's not a pleasant journey but I'm very safety-conscious," he said.
Transport accounted for 20.2pc of all emissions in 2018 and the Government is also moving toward electrifying the public transport system along with encouraging motorists to buy electric cars. There will also be a major investment in cycling.
Electric vehicles emit around 1.75 less tonnes of carbon per year than petrol or diesel-powered cars.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment says that as the emissions intensity of electricity decreases, this saving will increase to 2.5 tonnes by 2030. The carbon saving over a 12-year life would be circa 25 tonnes.
Mr Bruton has previously said: "We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations.
"Petrol and diesel cars make a significant contribution to our emissions and we must adapt.
"They also have a very negative impact on our air quality, especially in cities. By 2030, a third of cars on our roads will be electric.
"Electric cars are falling in price all the time and will cost the same as fossil-fuel cars later in the coming years, when you take the higher up-front costs and lower running costs together.
"Government is rolling out a nationwide charging network to support the significant ramp-up."