The Government should be doing more to incentivise hybrid and electric cars if they want to encourage away from the use of diesel cars according to Conor Faughnan from the AA.
The director of consumer affairs was speaking after the Department of Communications, Climate Affairs and Environment released a document of public consultation for the development of a Clean Air Strategy earlier this month.
“Ireland chose to heavily support diesel engines 10 years ago and it worked. It was a mass migration from petrol to diesel. We should be doing the same thing now for hybrid and electric, we should be doing more to incentivise these things.”
A large part of the conversation surrounding the Clean Air Strategy was focused around the effects cars have on the environment and the gases that come from their exhaust, which Faughnan said is unfair due to the improvements made in the past number of years.
Diesel powered cars are being continuously developed to help reduce the production of CO2 emissions and despite the issue now about NOx and other harmful fumes, in relative terms they are much cleaner than previous incarnations.
He pointed out that there is a significant difference between diesel engine cars and heavy commercial diesel engines; that unlike other pollution agents, all modes of transport are grouped as whole. “The domestic car has made more progress to be cleaner, and it is the pantomime villain when it is not recognised separate to trucks, HGVs and buses.”
He was sympathetic to diesel owners who made the long term investment in good faith and now are potentially going to being punished for their decision.
Some suggestions to curtail the use of diesel cars have been to introduce a congestion charge zone or “diesel-free” area of Dublin and other urban areas, as is with other major European cities, but Faughnan says using the likes of London, Paris and Amsterdam are not direct comparisons to Irish cities.
“All of those cities have a public transport with a capacity and quality of service better than ours. When the congestion charge was introduced in London, there were only 13 percent of people who came in by private car because they had a tube network, in Dublin that is 30 percent. If people had a tube or metro they wouldn’t have to be forced out of their cars, they would jump at the chance.”