“Beyond frustrating” that media has to be told fossil-fuelled cars not a climate solution

— Irish Times also publish uncontested claims against removal of hybrid grants.

It is beyond frustrating that the media has to be told that fossil-fuelled cars not a climate solution an expert has said after The Irish Times published the uncontested claim from a car sales executive.

The article in The Irish Times was headlined “Call for petrol and diesel cars to be ‘part of the solution’ to reduce emissions” and published on Tuesday.

“No, fossil-fuelled cars are not part of the solution to climate change. And it’s beyond frustrating that this needs to be pointed out to the media. It’s 2021 folks,” said Hannah Daly, a lecturer in Lecturer in Sustainable Energy Systems at University College Cork.

She said it was really weird that the newspaper would publish uncontested claims by car sellers objecting to a rapid phaseout of fossil fuelled cars.

The Irish Times reported claims by Audi Cork general manager, Liam Murphy, without views from an expert in decarbonisation or without correcting factual errors.

In the newspaper, Murphy was quoted: “Pushing just EVs is not the way to go about it. The modern petrol and diesel car is part of the solution, not part of the problem, and petrol and diesel models are going to be with us up until 2030 when EVs become more available and the charging infrastructure is better.”

The newspaper reported that Murphy said the motor industry internationally did not have the capacity to deliver on a quick switchover to electric cars, and how he wanted the Government to cut VRT on new petrol and diesel cars to encourage their sales.

Daly said that climate targets on transport will be met by minimising the number of new fossil fuel vehicle sales, using these vehicles as little as possible, replacing car trips with active travel and public transport, and, where these options are not available, with full battery electric vehicles.

In a letter published in The Irish Times today, she said: “Your reported comments from a motor industry representative advocating for a greater role for fossil fuel vehicles in meeting climate targets includes factual errors which distort the climate action discourse, and are contrary to the undisputed fact that fossil fuel vehicles are among the most significant drivers of climate change.”

Daly said: Contrary to the claim that new cars emit far less than those sold even five years ago, the per-kilometre carbon dioxide emissions of new cars has barely budged since 2015, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. This is because, even as electric vehicle sales skyrocket, SUVs dominate new car sales. Their additional weight and size has offset the technical improvements in engine efficiency, and according to the International Energy Agency, has even offset the climate gains from electric vehicles.”

“Moreover, the gap between vehicle emissions according to car manufacturers and their performance in the real world has steadily grown. Every new fossil fuel vehicle entering the car fleet, including plug-in hybrid models, could emit 20 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, and each new vehicle will make our national carbon budgets even more difficult and costly to achieve,” she added.

Motor sales body attacks removal of hybrid incentives

Meanwhile, Irish motor sales lobbyists have received uncontested coverage on their views on grants for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, and breakingnews.ie. Both Breakingnews.ie and the Irish Examiner are owned by The Irish Times group.

Hybrids are widely seen as problematic by environmentalist groups, researchers and other experts on decarbonisation — one of Europe’s leading transport NGOs last year branded hybrids as “fake electric cars”.

But in an article published both on IrishTimes.com and Breakingnews.ie yesterday, Brian Cooke, director general Society of the Irish Motor Industry, which is mainly a lobby group for car dealers and repairers, is quoted making uncontested claimed that it is “too early” to pull the plug on grants for plug-in hybrids.

In the articles, he is quoted from a press release as stating: “It is not too late to reverse this, and we would again urge the Government to re-instate this support”.

Cooke was also quoted in an “Irish Examiner view” editorial article at the end of October headlined “Dropping incentives for hybrid cars makes no sense”. The Irish Examiner leader-writer wrote: “It is puzzling why the Government has removed the purchase incentive offered to buyers of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

Transport and Environment, an environmental lobby group that describes itself as Europe’s leading NGO campaigning for cleaner transport, said late last year that new tests on the newest models confirm that hybrids pollute far more than car makers claim.

“Plug-in hybrids are fake electric cars, built for lab tests and tax breaks, not real driving. Our tests show that even in optimal conditions, with a full battery, the cars pollute more than advertised. Unless you drive them softly, carbon emissions can go off the charts,” said Julia Poliscanova, said senior director of vehicles and emobility at Transport and Environment on the group’s website.

She added: “Governments should stop subsidising these cars with billions in taxpayers’ money.”

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