The Government’s climate action transport targets have been labelled a “joke” after it emerged the State’s fleet includes just 13 electric vehicles out of thousands registered across departments and agencies.
Ambitious plans to ensure 1m electric vehicles will be on the roads by 2030 are now being called into question as new figures show the shockingly low numbers of EVs used by the State.
Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed that, as of last week, just 13 electric vehicles were registered out of the 6,573 listed as State-owned, emergency, or rescue related
The National Transport Authority recently announced that it was planning to buy another 200 diesel buses ahead of a ban on their purchase next month.
Fianna Fáil’s outgoing transport spokesman Robert Troy, who obtained the details from Mr Ross, has now called into question the Government’s recently announced climate action plan and its targets.
“It’s all very fine for the Government to publish a plan saying they want to ‘nudge citizens’ to make changes when they are not making any changes themselves — they should be leading by example.
“These figures show a shocking lack of leadership on the part of the Government with regards to electric vehicles. As the owner of more than 6,500 cars, the State has considerable purchasing power and could be a true leader in this regard.
“Instead, the Government has failed entirely to put its money where its mouth is and owns just 13 electric cars. There are probably individual housing estates that have more EVs than the entire State fleet does.”
Mr Ross, in his reply to Mr Troy, said the figure of just 13 might exclude other public vehicles that were not categorised as State-owned for tax reasons.
He also said the transition to alternatively-fuelled vehicles, including electric, was crucial, given the passenger car sector accounts for over half of land transport emissions.
Ways to boost the uptake of EVs in the State’s fleet were being examined, he added. However, he admitted that there were barriers to switching to EVs, including limited vehicle choice and range anxiety.
The Government wants 1m electric cars on the roads by 2030. It has also pledged that diesel and petrol-engined vehicle sales will be banned.
According to Mr Ross, figures for the end of May show there were 11,418 EVs registered — 6,892 fully electric and 4,526 hybrids.
However, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi) has said the Government’s target for electric car sales and zero emissions will not be met, and warned any VRT hikes in the budget would further damage the industry.
“It is important to note that this transition is not deliverable in the short term, as it will take a number of years to achieve, longer than is proposed in the plan,” said Brian Cooke, Simi director general. “We require the right measures that focus on gradual change and include sensible policies aimed at encouraging motorists to make the right choices that can lead to clean, affordable, and convenient mobility solutions.”
It has also emerged that the State environment watchdog, the EPA, does not own a single electric vehicle. The agency, responsible for overseeing greenhouse gas emissions and which vowed to green its fleet almost three years ago, has now put out a €250,000 tender for six electric vehicles.
Last year, documents released under freedom of information revealed that the agency owns 32 vehicles, of which 26 are solely run on diesel.
The EPA warned in 2016 that diesel cars represent “the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions” from transport in Ireland. In 2015, it blamed diesel cars as “a key source” of pollution, with “significant human health impacts” that include cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and heart attacks.
Additional reporting by Brian Hutton