Only 25 of State’s 6,000-strong fleet of vehicles electrically-powered

Friends of the Earth Ireland says number of electric vehicles in State fleet ‘laughable’

‘Almost every single car the State purchases should be electric unless there is some overriding reason against that.’ Photograph: Getty

‘Almost every single car the State purchases should be electric unless there is some overriding reason against that.’ Photograph: Getty

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Only 25 of the State’s more than 6,000-strong fleet of vehicles are electrically-powered, the Government has admitted.

In the week the Coalition trumpeted its Climate Action Bill as Ireland showing leadership, the purchase of just 21 publicly-owned electric vehicles over the past three years has been derided as “laughable”, and showing “a total lack of leadership”.

Figures obtained from the Department of Transport confirm that 6,013 of 6,061 State-owned vehicles – more than 99 per cent – are diesel or petrol fuelled. The vast majority (5,641) are diesel.

The fleet also includes 14 hybrid cars, an increase of 10 compared to three years ago.

Oisin Coughlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said it was “really disappointing” that there has been a “negligible improvement” in the percentage of electric cars in the State fleet.

“It is ludicrous for the Government to tell us that the main plank of their climate action transport plans is for us to buy electrical vehicles when they are not even buying them themselves. That is a total lack of leadership.”

Mr Coughlan said the number of electric vehicles in the State fleet was “laughable” two years after the government’s own Climate Action Plan put a target of almost 1 million electric cars on Irish roads by 2030.

“It is a very obvious place to start now for this Government if they want to show they are serious about climate action. Almost every single car the State purchases should be electric unless there is some overriding reason against that.”

Launching the Climate Action Bill during the week, which commits Ireland to be carbon-neutral by 2050, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the legislation “affirms our ambition to be a global leader in this field”.

However, Darren O’Rourke, Sinn Féin’s climate action and transport spokesman, said the lack of electric vehicles used by the State was “further proof that the Irish Government are climate laggards”.

“It’s pathetic really given the reality of the type of change we need to deliver on electric vehicles and the move away from petrol and diesel cars. The State has a really important role in terms of leadership and leading by example.”

He said the disclosure showed “an incoherence between Government policy and practice”. 

Frameworks

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said the Office of Government Procurement had drawn up frameworks for the supply of long- and medium-range battery electric passenger cars and vans to public sector bodies.

“As battery and recharging technologies develop and a greater range of vehicles become commercially available it is expected that an increasing number of public bodies will transition to EVs [electric vehicles], with low-emitting vehicles being favoured where feasible,” she said.

“In some limited cases the operational requirements and the specific nature of certain work may not be adequately served by the range of lower-emitting vehicles available, although this limitation is likely to reduce over time.”

In response to a parliamentary question earlier this month, Minister for Transport and Climate Action Eamon Ryan said electric vehicles “are the most prominent transport mitigation measure” in the Climate Action Plan.

He said there were currently around 28,000 EVs under taxation in Ireland, and of these 14,363 were fully electric.