Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (99)

Marc MacSharry


99. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is undertaking to increase the attractiveness of electric vehicles; his views on whether his Department can meet the targets laid out in the Climate Action Plan 2019 regarding electric vehicle take-up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29578/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The recently published Climate Action Plan sets out a whole-of-Government approach to climate action and maps a potential pathway to meet Ireland's 2030 emission reduction commitments. The Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. As the transport sector accounts for a little over one quarter of Ireland's non-ETS emissions there is no question that it must feature strongly in the national decarbonisation effort.

In 2017 the passenger car fleet accounted for approximately 52% of land transport emissions and accordingly electric vehicles (EVs) are a prominent mitigation technology in the Plan, with a target of almost 950,000 EVs on Irish roads by 2030. This is a very challenging target; however, as technology improves and becomes cheaper, and if we continue to incentivise and invest in EVs and the associated recharging network, we are ambitious that we can make real progress towards getting the electric vehicles we need on the road by 2030. Concerted efforts across several Departments will be essential if we are to maintain a supportive environment to assist citizens in making the greener choice and switching to an EV. The target is a very challenging one and is indicative of the scale of transformation required across all sectors if Ireland is to reduce national emissions and reach its legally binding emission ceilings.

Globally, electric vehicles are the leading solution to the decarbonisation of private car transport. It is the Government’s job to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making the greener choice and selecting electric vehicles now and in the years to come.

To that end, an interdepartmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce,  co-charied by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment (DCCAE), was established to consider the range of measures and options available to Government to accelerate EV take-up. Preliminary recommendations from the Taskforce were considered ahead of Budgets 2018 and 2019 and a suite of continued and new EV supports were subsequently announced. Principal supports, such as the EV Purchase Grant Scheme, the Domestic Charger Grant and the roll out of an extensive recharging network, fall under the remit of the Minister of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. In tandem, I am responsible for two further initiatives: the Electric Vehicle Toll Incentive (EVTI) Scheme and the Electric Small Public Service Vehicle (eSPSV) Grant Scheme.

The EVTI was designed to encourage private car commuters who regularly use tolled roads to consider switching to an EV. It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 heavy toll users in Ireland so reduced tolls act as a meaningful incentive for a large number of vehicle owners. I have committed to continuing this incentive until 2022 or until a threshold of 50,000 registrations has been reached.

The eSPSV Grant Scheme promotes the use of EVs in taxis/hackneys/limousines. Recognising the important role that the SPSV sector can play in demonstrating EV technology to a wider audience I have agreed, under the Climate Action Plan, to improve the value of the eSPSV grant to those transitioning to wheelchair accessible electric SPSVs to make EVs available to a greater number of our citizens.

Finally, support from the Department of Finance has also been fundamental in establishing the current positive policy environment under which we have already seen electric vehicle sales rise steeply over the past year, albeit from a low base. According to the latest figures, approximately 11,500 EVs were under taxation at the end of May 2019. This is double the amount that was on Irish roads at the end of May 2018. In order to continue this trajectory I will continue to work closely with Ministers Bruton and Donohoe and their respective Departments to map out the new policy pathway that will be necessary to ensure that Ireland is well positioned to avail fully of increased supply of EVs, of improved technology and falling prices that are expected worldwide.