The whole-of-Government Climate Action Plan clearly recognises that Ireland must significantly step up its commitments to tackle climate disruption. The transport sector, which accounts for about 20% of Ireland’s overall carbon emissions, must play a central role in the national decarbonisation effort. The national car fleet accounts for over half of all land transport emissions, and so a transition to low emission vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs), is a necessary step-change to effect a substantial reduction in transport emissions.
In order to expedite the deployment of low emitting vehicles an inter-Departmental Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce was jointly established by my Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to consider a full suite of potential measures available to Government. Phase 1 of the Taskforce concentrated on EVs; as part of this work, the important leadership role that Public Bodies and Government Departments can play in encouraging LEV uptake was examined. The Taskforce recommended the introduction of a new public procurement framework for EVs by 2020 and this recommendation was echoed in the Climate Action Plan (Action 149). The Office of Government Procurement is now developing a direct drawdown mechanism to allow public sector bodies to purchase an EV with a reduced administrative burden. It is expected that this measure will promote greater uptake of EVs in the State vehicle fleet, significantly reducing corresponding automotive emissions.
As battery and recharging technologies develop and a greater range of vehicles become commercially available I expect an increasing number of public bodies to transition towards EVs, with low emitting vehicles being favoured where feasible. In some limited cases, the operational requirements and the specific nature of certain work may not be adequately served by the range of lower emitting vehicles available, although this limitation is likely to reduce over time. Nonetheless, I note that the Deputy is asking specifically about passenger cars, and in those cases it is expected that EVs can offer a suitable low emitting solution for very many of the passenger car needs of State bodies.
I would like to reassure the Deputy that 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 and the State are well positioned to make the transition to low emission vehicles as efficiently and rapidly as possible.