According to the most recent emission inventory from the EPA and using the SEAI energy balance, it is estimated that heavy-duty vehicles contributed just under 19% of the total land transport emissions in 2017, second only to emissions from private passenger cars. The Deputy correctly notes that diesel technology has become progressively cleaner and greener over the past decade with the introduction of each improving Euro-class standard. Euro VI-class engines demonstrably emit fewer harmful air pollutants such as NOX and PMs. Notwithstanding that progress, a transition away from the use of fossil fuels towards alternative fuels in the heavy-duty sector will be required in the coming years to reduce our growing freight emissions.
My Department is working closely with that of Minister Bruton to encourage this transition, and an interdepartmental Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Taskforce was jointly convened to consider the range of options available to Government to accelerate the take-up of low-carbon technologies. While electric technology in the heavy-duty sector is not as well developed as in the light-duty sector, this is rapidly changing as the market matures; large vehicles such as electric trucks have been sold in other jurisdictions, indicating that electricity may become a more feasible option for the heavy-duty sector in the longer term. Of course, electric vehicles are not the only alternative fuel or technology available to reduce transport emissions; the National Policy Framework for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure in Ireland, published by my Department in 2017, outlined a potential role for other fuels and technologies, including hydrogen, biofuels and natural gas/biogas. Phase 2 of the LEV Taskforce which is considering these alternative fuels, amongst others, is ongoing. It is expected that the Taskforce will submit recommendations in this regard to Government as part of the 2020 Budget and Estimates Process. The role of incentives, such as those mentioned by the Deputy, will be considered in this context.
Over the coming years, further steps will be needed to help move towards decarbonisation of the freight sector and, more broadly, towards meeting our national emissions targets. The Climate Action Plan indicates potential pathways to achieving this. Action 83 of the Climate Action Plan indicates a commitment to consider the introduction of an emissions-based VRT and motor tax for light goods vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. The Deputy will be aware that responsibility for taxation, and consequently for implementation of this action, rests with the Department of Finance.