Ahead of the imminent launch of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, leaked details reveal moves that could drastically alter our transport sector.
Later this afternoon (17 June), the Government will reveal its new Climate Action Plan based on the recommendations made by March’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on how to reverse Ireland’s position as a climate ‘laggard’.
Already, many of the major changes set to come to Irish society if it becomes law have been revealed. Here are some of the biggest talking points from what we know.
Regularly pointed out as one of Ireland’s biggest polluters, the transport sector could be turned on its head in the years to come. One proposal is to give local authorities across the country the ability to ban petrol and diesel cars from town centres, instead of having a ‘congestion charge’ system similar to London.
Also, all new petrol and diesel cars would be banned from sale as of 2030. By placing an additional ban on NCTs being issued to these cars by 2045, the Government would effectively be taking all fossil fuel-powered cars off the road.
With this, it is expected Irish drivers will see the growth of electric vehicle (EV) sales exponentially from the current low numbers today. This will require a major infrastructure project to build enough EV chargers for the State.
As part of this, local authorities will have to provide 200 public charging points each year, leading to an EV charging network for 800,000 vehicles by 2030. For public transport, the Government wants to make all new public buses EVs as well as assess whether a car-sharing programme could be rolled out nationally.
Carbon taxes and homes
After Budget 2019, the Government was strongly criticised for its hesitancy to raise the carbon tax. Under the new plan, it will rise from €20 per tonne of CO2 emissions to €80 by 2030.
For homeowners, taxes on the price of fuel will also increase, with a bale of briquettes to rise by €1.60 by 2030 while a 40kg bag of coal would increase by €7. In new dwellings, the sale of oil boilers will be banned from 2022 and gas boilers from 2025. Future legislation could allow for assistance in removing boilers from homes after 2026.
Every home in the country will need to obtain a Building Energy Rating Certificate (BER) by a date yet to be agreed, and national retrofitting of houses to meet efficiency standards could see increases in local property tax or payments made through electricity bills.
Both businesses and homeowners could also see their electricity tax rates equalised to €1 per megawatt hour, which the report says is still significantly lower than the EU average.
Microgeneration and pensions
The Government wants to enact measures that would encourage homes and industries to work in on-site microgeneration of electricity. By 2021, it wants to give those generating electricity the ability to sell any excess to the wider national grid.
Greater scrutiny will also be seen regarding pensions, with holders being required to disclose what – if any – portion consists of fossil fuel assets. This would also include the option for pension holders to choose a fund that contains no fossil fuel assets.
While a radical change, these measures might still not be enough for Ireland to meet its emissions reduction target for 2030 as set by the EU. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency said that even the most drastic changes revealed as part of the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan would still see us far overshoot our target.