The Irish Times view on electric vehicles: turbo-charged hypocrisy

Fine Gael’s ‘Green Week’ campaign had a hollow ring to it

April 18th, 2018: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) launches its #DrivingElectric campaign, hoping to encourage drivers to choose electric cars over petrol and diesel.

 

The need to decarbonise key sectors is fundamental to tackling climate change and the long-term wellbeing of the Irish economy. Adoption of renewable energy is essential in taking that course.

In many ways transport is where Ireland must concentrate its efforts most in moving to a decarbonised world, as a booming economy has coincided with relentlessly rising CO2 emissions from road vehicles.

We lag behind other developed countries in adopting EVs, plug-in hybrids and use of alternative fuels

On this critical front, confirmation that Government departments have installed just six electric vehicle (EV) chargers to be shared by their 35,000 staff is an indication of lack of leadership and a failure to act on its own policies – not to mention blatant hypocrisy. Currently, EV drivers are unable to go from Dublin to Galway on one charge, necessitating a stop en route to re-charge batteries. Range anxiety is exacerbated by a lack of charge points, even on motorways.

Electric car being charged: just five of the 6,536 vehicles owned by the State are electric-powered. Photograph: Thinkstock
"The irony is that 2018 sales of EVs in Ireland have already surpassed the 2017 total..." File photograph: Thinkstock

We lag behind other developed countries in adopting EVs, plug-in hybrids and use of alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas or hydrogen, in heavy goods vehicles.

The irony is that 2018 sales of EVs in Ireland have already surpassed the 2017 total, as more and more motorists recognise the environmental benefits they bring, while meaningful incentives are being rolled out, such as new fast chargers and an ESB grant for those installing a home charging point.

Fine Gael recently launched a “Green Week” which underlined the need for collective action on climate change. In a social media campaign, it called for “more visible and plentiful EV charging points”. The campaign had a hollow ring to it, given its poor record on climate change, its negligence in protecting natural heritage and failure to provide the scale of investment needed to make the transition to EVs happen.

Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten has moved to “ban diesel and petrol car tailpipes” from 2030. Based on current EV up-take rates and lack of infrastructural support for motorists prepared to embrace low carbon technology, it’s pie-in-the-sky talk.

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