Thursday 17 October 2019

New scrappage plan to lure motorists away from petrol and diesel cars

Previous scrappage schemes have been hugely successful. Stock Image
Previous scrappage schemes have been hugely successful. Stock Image
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A scrappage scheme aimed at getting motorists to switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles should be explored as part of the State's bid to tackle climate change, TDs and Senators says.

A draft report by a cross-party group of politicians has been probing how the Government can encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint.

There has been disagreement over proposals for carbon tax, but a scrappage scheme is believed to have widespread support among members of the Joint Committee on Climate Action.

Previous scrappage schemes have been hugely successful, with one in the mid-1990s resulting in as many as 65,000 new cars being sold.

More recently, a scheme introduced during the economic crash to boost the motor industry resulted in the sale of more than 26,000 cars with lower carbon emissions.

Under that scheme, car buyers could avail of up to €1,500 in discounts in Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) when trading in a car that was more than 10 years old. Some car dealers added further discounts themselves.

The draft report includes recommendations on supporting the transition to zero-emission vehicles and encouraging their early adoption.

Change

One recommendation would require the Department of Transport to "examine the possibility of scrappage support" for petrol and diesel vehicles. A source said it could be a "tangible" measure among an array of supports to encourage behavioural change, including the retrofitting of family homes to make them more energy efficient.

Another committee member said that while the terms of such a scrappage scheme have not been discussed by the committee, they couldn't see anyone opposing the idea.

A fourfold increase in carbon tax to €80 per tonne is another recommendation being considered by TDs and senators, but Sinn Féin and People Before Profit members of the committee oppose this.

Options set out in the draft report for using increased carbon tax revenues include using it to fully compensate those likely to suffer from fuel poverty and using the balance for climate action funding like retrofitting schools.

Another option would be to return the proceeds in a dividend to all households, similar to the 'carbon cheque' idea previously floated by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The effect of this would be to encourage households to gain from the dividend by reducing their carbon footprint.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have clashed over the timing of finalising the report, but the committee could vote on which recommendations to adopt at a public meeting that may take place as early as this week.

Irish Independent

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