I propose to take Questions Nos. 54 and 56 together.
Providing a sustainable, low-carbon transport system is a key priority of my Department. The Programme for Government commits to 7% average annual emissions reduction to 2030; ultimately, the goal is for a zero-emission mobility system by 2050. Electrification will be key to achieving this objective in the transport sector.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the most prominent transport mitigation measure in the 2019 Climate Action Plan , and Ireland has set an ambitious target of 936,000 EVs on our roads by 2030. This target is challenging but indicates the scale of the transformation that is needed across all sectors if Ireland is to achieve its climate targets in the coming years. The Climate Action Plan 2021 retains this commitment to transforming the national vehicle fleet to a zero emissions fleet, and contains a range of measures to support the public and business in transitioning to electric vehicles.
Considerable progress has already been made, as a result of the work of the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce , to ensure that conditions and policies are in place to support citizens in making greener vehicle choices. As the Deputy will be aware, a comprehensive suite of measures is available to EV drivers, including purchase grants for private car owners and taxi drivers, VRT relief, reduced tolls, home charger grants, favourable motor and BIK tax rates, as well as a comprehensive charging network. These measures have collectively contributed to increased take up of EVs in Ireland in recent years, albeit from a low base, to over 46,500 now.
In addition, my Department convened the Electric Vehicle Policy Pathway (EVPP) Working Group to produce a roadmap to achieving the 2030 EV target. The EVPP Working Group comprises senior officials and has considered regulatory, financial, and taxation policies to help drive a significant ramp-up in passenger EVs and electric van sales.
The recommendations of the EVPP Working Group were approved by Government and the full report is now available online.
In order to support the transition to EVs, the Group recommended that:
- The generous suite of EV supports already in place in Ireland should be retained until at least end-2022. Additional measures to further incentivise EVs and/or disincentivise fossil fuelled vehicles will also be necessary. Cost-effective, targeted policy supports should continue to be developed and strengthened over the coming years; and
- An Office for Low Emission Vehicles should be established, as a matter of priority, to co-ordinate the implementation of existing and future EV measures and infrastructure. The new Office should also take charge of developing and launching an extensive communication and engagement campaign, whole of Government in coverage, to drive the availability and understanding of key information regarding EVs, tailored to household, business and public sector consumers.
Overall, the Department is acutely aware that the cost of electric vehicles remains an issue for many consumers. To this end, electric vehicle policy is kept under continuous review to endeavour to make low emission vehicles affordable.