Target of 1 million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030 to be dropped

— Move to drop electric car target supported by OECD, transport experts and campaigners.

Transport and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has signalled that the target of 1 million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030 to be dropped next month.

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The Sunday Independent is reporting that the publication of a revised Climate Action Plan for 2023 will effectively drop the target. The target had two strands of criticism — that it would not be achievable due to constraints in the car industry, and that the goal should instead be on reducing both the number of cars and reducing car use.

Some experts and campaigners have suggested that the target should not be a number of vehicles, but instead be a target of the percentage of the national private and public vehicle fleet which should be electric by 2030.

The newspaper quotes Minister Ryan as having said: “I think a lesser number, it hasn’t been finalised yet… I think one of the biggest changes is probably going to be in transport, recognising that it isn’t just about switching to electric vehicles. It is also about reducing the amount of transport we do. One million EVs is not the key metric.”

The Sunday Independent also reported that the Minister said that the focus will be on reducing the need to travel and a “radical shift” towards walking cycling, and public transport.

Brian Caulfield, Associate Professor at the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, said: “This would be great to see — the electric car target was not the way to go as the recent OECD report showed. More cars, regardless of how we fuel them, would continue to lock us into a car culture.”

The recent OECD report on decarbonating Ireland’s transport sector said: “Aiming at decarbonising the system via private vehicle improvements is unlikely to lead to substantially different patterns of behaviour, rapid emissions reductions, and large well-being improvements. Car-dependent systems make rapid electrification slow and difficult, by locking-in large and growing vehicle fleets.”

The report added: “Even with improved (and fully-electric) vehicles, they also fail to reduce life-cycle emissions, address accessibility gaps and other negative impacts (e.g. road fatalities).”

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