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Car trade’s reduced emissions claim is ‘greenwash’

ALAN Nolan of the SIMI says (Letters, June 21) that “as a result of scrappage, 17,500 more cars have been sold this year delivering an additional €70m in badly needed extra revenue to the exchequer”.

But 11,500 were not eligible for scrappage and the 6,000 that were pay either no VRT or a greatly reduced amount. This seems a perverse argument; the net effect must be a loss of tax revenue.

Mr Nolan’s figure of 70gms/km CO2 saving on a new car assumes it replaces a much bigger, more powerful car.

Engine efficiencies have not improved in the past 10 years – it is simply a question of fuel consumption. Petrol and diesel are hydrocarbons which produce water vapour and CO2 when burnt.

However, the SIMI admits to having no details of the vehicles scrapped, nor can I find this information anywhere else, so I assume it’s fictional.

Talk of savings in CO2 emissions is ‘greenwash’; the only thing that matters is total emissions. Traffic volumes are growing at 7% a year. Cars are getting bigger and doing more mileage, so CO2 emissions are growing exponentially and subsidies or anything else that makes motoring cheaper can only encourage this trend.

Confusion has been sown in the public mind regarding exhaust emissions. New cars are cleaner in terms of oxides, ppms and unburnt hydrocarbons emissions than old cars, but this is a public health issue and has nothing to do with CO2 emissions which would be no different.

Mr Nolan’s claim that scrappage saved 10,000 jobs doesn’t add up. Assuming that 10 hours work is involved in selling a new car, for 6,000 cars this makes 30 jobs at a cost of €250,000 per job for one year.

If, as he claims, margins on new car sales are slim, the money is going to factories in foreign countries – now why would the SIMI want to subsidise factories and workers in Poland or Germany?

Scrapping roadworthy vehicles (they have to have a recent NCT certificate) after 10 years is wasteful; aircraft and trains which are in constant use can be kept going for up to 50 years.

There is a need for cheap vehicles for youngsters and the poor; scrappage removes these from the market and inflates the price of all second-hand cars. Minimising imports is not, as he claims, protectionism, which is a system of tariffs or trade barriers illegal under EU law – it is good economics.

Petrol and diesel requirements have to be imported at a cost of several billion euro per year; if imports exceed exports we have a balance of payments problem.

Mr Nolan’s claim that people with old cars patronise garages less than new car-owners defies commonsense and experience. They are obliged to whether they like it or not; they have to pass the NCT test. DIY is not an option. All cars need servicing but old cars are more inclined to breakdown needing expensive and complicated repairs.

The SIMI has a history of campaigning against taxes and has implanted the myth of the overtaxed motorist in the public mind. The fact is motorists are highly subsidised, which is unfair on half the population who do not own cars. There is certainly no excuse for further subsides in any shape or form.

Michael Job



Co Cork


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