Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action to discuss impact on carbon budgets of growing trend in car sales towards heavier and larger vehicles such as SUVs
On Tuesday the 26th of September, Professor Hannah Daly of the ERI, MaREI and School of Engineering presented to the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action to discuss the impact on our carbon budgets arising from the growing trend in car sales towards heavier and larger vehicles such as SUVs.
In her opening statement Prof Daly commented that research on the Irish energy system reveals a concerning trajectory of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, especially from the transport sector, which overshadows positive strides made in clean energy deployment. Despite promising trends like a rise in electric vehicle (EV) sales, the persistent and growing use of fossil fuels is exacerbating the country's carbon footprint. One significant issue is the increasing weight of cars, both fossil-fueled and electric. In the past two decades, cars in Ireland have become heavier by an average of 300 kg, nullifying efficiency gains and leading to more emissions. Analyses from UCC suggest that maintaining vehicle weights at levels from twenty years ago would have reduced CO2 intensity by 10%. Taxation policies currently overlook distinctions between EVs based on efficiency, weight, or size. Thus, there's an urgent need to implement policy measures, such as adjusting vehicle registration taxes based on weight, to encourage the use of lighter, more efficient vehicles. These measures will not only address the projected overshoot of legislated emission ceilings but also promote public safety and mitigate broader health and environmental concerns associated with larger vehicles.
The committee also heard from: