Ireland sets out clean air plan with option to ban petrol and diesel sales by 2030

19 February 2018

19 February 2018

The Irish Government has unveiled its development plan to improve the country’s air quality, including a ban on diesel and petrol vehicle sales.

The plans envisage a radical overhaul of how the country tackles climate change, with €22 billion earmarked towards a series of measures that will turn Ireland into a low-carbon economy by 2050. The measures are primarily aimed at transport, agriculture and the environment and include plans to stop coal-burning at the country’s biggest power plant.

However, it is the transport sector that will make the biggest contribution to the plans. According to the report, transport accounts for 20% of Ireland’s overall emissions (and 27% of our non-ETS emissions), with 52% of overall transport emissions coming from private cars, 24% from freight and 4% from public transport.

Therefore the plan makes a point of highlighting the need for the country to increase its charging network as well as the need to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads. The plan is to have at least 500,000 EVs sold in the country by 2030 with additional charging infrastructure.

This would match the timescale that the government has established to implement a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles. While the UK and France are planning similar bans by 2040, Ireland is looking to bring in such a framework a decade earlier. This is a similar timescale to Scotland, although it remains unclear how the country can implement a different year for a ban to the rest of the UK.

In a report published earlier in 2017, the government states: ′The National Policy Framework on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure for Transport in Ireland: 2017- 2030 sets an ambitious target that from 2030 all new cars and vans sold in Ireland will be zero emission (or zero emission-capable) and that other technology, perhaps still unknown, will be fuelling larger vehicles, so that by 2050, the nation’s car fleet, along with much of our public transport buses and rail lines, will be low/near zero emissions. In the meantime, Ireland is seeking greater diversification of fuels in the freight sector to include a mix of natural gas, biogas, electricity (light vans) and renewable diesel or other biofuels. Hydrogen may also play a role although the timing of hydrogen deployment is as yet uncertain.’

Alongside transitioning drivers to cleaner transport, the government also plans to replace the country’s existing diesel buses with lower emitting alternatives under the BusConnects program, while promoting commercial bus services and small public service vehicle industry to use low-emission fleet.

To finance its plans and ensure it is sustainable in the future, the Irish Government is planning to use part of the existing petroleum products levy of two cents per litre, which has been in place since 2007.