The Green Party’s call on the Government to “rise to the challenge being posed by the UK, France, Germany, and Holland, and target the complete phase out of combustion engines as soon as possible” is laudable but unrealistic.
It follows the announcement by the British government of a complete ban on the sale of all petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars from 2040, when all vehicles must be fully electric.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan wants the Irish Government to try to beat the UK’s target but he and his party are not comparing like with like.
We still import more than 80% of all our energy needs while the UK, France, and Holland are all major fossil fuel producers and all use nuclear power, along with Germany, which plans to phase it out. Even 96% of our natural gas is imported. On the face of it, following the UK lead would assist us in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels but only if the electricity used is itself generated from clean energy.
The nuclear power option should still be considered. In France, 70% of energy comes from nuclear power, a source the Greens regard as toxic. Like it or not, toxic or not, nuclear power is not a fossil fuel.
A more achievable target would be to electrify all mainline rail which currently runs on diesel and implement fully the Government’s target, as set out in the National Mitigation Plan, that all new sales of vehicles will be electric after 2030.
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