Petrol and diesel cars not part of solution


A chara, – 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 (“Call for petrol and diesel cars to be ‘part of the solution’ to reduce emissions”, November 30th).

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.

Climate targets will be met by minimising the number of new fossil fuel vehicle sales and by using these vehicles as little as possible, replacing car trips with active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport, and, where these options are not available, with full battery electric vehicles.

– Is mise,


School of Engineering,