Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 13 July 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Reduction of Carbon Emissions of 51% by 2030: Discussion (Resumed)
I welcome everybody to the meeting, both members and witnesses. As we continue our engagement regarding the reduction of carbon emissions of 51% by 2030, this session will focus on electric vehicle, EV, policy and the role that will play in reaching the emissions target.
I welcome to the meeting Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola, International Transport Forum, ITF, OECD; Dr. Brian Caulfield, associate professor, Trinity College Dublin, TCD; and Dr. Hannah Daly, University College Cork, UCC. I understand Dr. Daly has to leave the meeting at 2 p.m. and that is fine as we will still get through the opening statements and most questions from members. It will not be an inconvenience.
Before we begin, I will read the note on privilege. I remind witnesses of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if a witness's statements are potentially defamatory to an identifiable person or entity, he or she will be directed to discontinue his or her remarks. It is imperative that witnesses comply with any such direction. There are some limitations to parliamentary privilege for witnesses who are attending remotely from outside the Leinster House campus. As such, they may not benefit from the same level of immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does.
Members of the committee are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. I remind members that they are only allowed to participate in this meeting if they are physically located on the Leinster House complex. In this regard, I ask all members, prior to making their contribution to the meeting, to confirm that they are on the grounds of the Leinster House campus. For those who are watching this meeting online, Members of the Oireachtas and witnesses are accessing the meeting remotely. Only I, as Chair, and the necessary staff essential to the running of the meeting are physically present in the committee room. Due to the unprecedented circumstances and the large number of people attending the meeting remotely, I ask everybody to bear with us should any technical issues arise. I should also state that our Chairman, Deputy Leddin, should be able to join us at some point, but was unable to chair the meeting today. As Vice Chairman, I am stepping in.
With that, I invite Mr. Cazzola to make his opening statement.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I thank the committee for inviting me to contribute to its work. I am adviser on energy, technology and environmental sustainability at the International Transport Forum, which I joined in 2019. Prior to this, I worked for the International Energy Agency, United Nations, European Commission and the environment directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The ITF is a global transport policy think tank with 63 member countries that span the world and are not limited to OECD members. We are grateful for our co-operation with our member country, Ireland, who has held ITF's presidency in 2020 and 2021.
I was invited to focus on the subject of electric vehicles. I understand that the main aim of the committee is to ascertain how Ireland can achieve emission reduction targets and other desirable outcomes. I will build on a number of publications that were published by the ITF and the International Energy Agency and, in particular, those on which I had the privilege to lead.
The first point I wish to make is that I see electric mobility as a key pillar of transport decarbonisation but not as the unique solution or silver bullet. It is important to bear in mind that deep cuts in emissions will require measures beyond the electrification of vehicles into the space of what are typically called "avoid and shift" measures. Additional action also needs to be taken throughout the life cycle of all emissions of vehicles, including in manufacturing, energy production and distribution, infrastructure construction and operational services. That is another key point to bear in mind when looking to what can be done through EVs and beyond.
The transition to EVs should also be seen in the broader context of other megatrends that can have positive impacts on economic productivity, in particular, digitalisation and the falling costs of renewable energy. It is something that helps make the case for the transition to electric mobility and electric vehicles. Further to this, it is also important to look at the context of policies and market developments that are geared towards the promotion of innovation and the fact that they have been key determinants in strong developments in cost cuts in the past decade for emerging low-carbon technologies. It is clearly the case in respect of batteries, which are key components of EVs, but also for other technologies that are essentially related to the renewable energy space such as wind and solar-generated electricity. These developments have had major impacts and have caused shifts in the capital markets and have led to the increase in market capitalisation of specific automakers and energy companies that excel in the electric mobility and renewable energy space. My impression is that Covid-19 has further accelerated these processes, as many Governments have been putting in place stimuli aiming to drive a recovery subject to lower financial, climate and sustainability risks.
Electric and digital technologies allowed new actors to enter the transport vehicle, service and energy markets. It is related to the shift in capital observed in the capital markets. I will not name companies individually but I am sure all members are aware of different companies whose market value has been rising significantly in recent years. Many of them operate in the EV and renewable energy spaces. From all of that, I expect to see an acceleration of both policy action and private sector investment in the space of clean, connected and autonomous vehicles, including EVs. As connected and autonomous vehicles are likely to increase travel demand, it will be important for Governments interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to look at ways to manage those impacts. It is important for some of the recommendations I will outline later. I will return to the point then.
In the near term, policy support is still required to get EVs and, in particular, cleaner vehicles more generally, into the market.
This will require a clear vision and the establishment of technical standards and regulations to ensure the safe operation of these vehicles. It also requires a conducive energy taxation and pricing framework. Ambitious public procurement programmes can also help to get the first electric vehicles on the roads or to scale up the number of vehicles already on the road. Economic incentives have been widely used to orient consumer preferences towards electric vehicles.
Tomorrow, major announcements will be made about regulatory requirements by the European Commission. These are also important to make sure there is greater market penetration. Given the impact of the change in the energy mix, there will also need to be policies to address aspects related to networks for the distribution of low carbon energy, in particular electricity and the deployment of charging infrastructure in the case of electric vehicles.
My take on this is that a transition to direct electrification of vehicles and renewable energy is likely to be the best fit for the cost transition towards low-carbon transportation of all the vehicles and fuel technologies we have available. However, there will be a bridging phase in which the cost will need to be reduced. The regulatory framework also needs to allow electric vehicles to stabilise the electricity network and capitalise on digital technology to better align demand and supply. There are challenges with regard to resource efficiency and sustainable supply chains that will need to be properly addressed through regulatory frameworks and other policy solutions. I am happy to go into greater detail on them.
We also believe governments should prepare for a transition from fuel duties to road pricing. By the time many electric vehicles will be on the road there will be less government revenue available from fuel taxation and there will still be a need to pay for the infrastructure. It will be important to ensure there is a mechanism to allow them to raise funds to continue to pay for road transport infrastructure. The ITF has been advocating for the development of distance-based charging. This requires a number of regulatory developments to enable it. As I mentioned earlier, these are also important to manage the transition towards digital and autonomous vehicles, which will also have an impact on activity and demand. Covid-19 packages can support the roll-out of charging infrastructure but it will be important to make sure public spending is addressed to areas where private investment would not be able to cover transitional changes. This would be where it is harder for private investment to ensure the availability of chargers.
Governments should also prepare for the impact the sustainable mobility transition to EVs and renewables will have on jobs, skill sets and social equity. This is important. I also want to stress the importance of ensuring that as countries transition towards e-mobility, they are also able to grasp part of the value chain that comes with it. It will be possible for their economies to benefit from the transition. This is the same story for a transition to renewable energy. I thank the committee for the opportunity to contribute.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I am an associate professor at the centre for transport research at Trinity College Dublin. I thank the Chair and members of the committee for the invitation to speak to them again about transportation and emissions. I congratulate the committee on the fantastic report it published last month on this topic.
Before discussing EVs, there are some fundamental issues to consider regarding private vehicles in general regardless of how they are fuelled. They take up a large amount of space in the built environmental with roads and parking. They spend approximately 95% of their time parked. Cars cause congestion, as we all know. In 2017, it was estimated this could cost up to €2.08 billion in 2033 in the greater Dublin area. Cars also cause air quality issues, particularly regarding particulate matter and particularly EVs because they are heavier. Policies that promote EVs should consider a number of important factors to ensure the viability of investment and its impact.
A just transition as well as cost are key in electric vehicle policymaking. Research that we have conducted in TCD shows that the highest concentrations of electric vehicle ownership tend to be in the most affluent areas in Ireland. As Mr. Cazzola has mentioned, the charging network required for these in Ireland will be extensive. In our urban areas there is a challenge of where to put charging spaces. The data on the number of households with driveways for parking is poor. In 2017, a household survey in Dublin found that just 44% had a driveway. I am involved in research in the Terrain-AI3 project funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Microsoft. We are using aerial imagery to find driveways and using machine learning to count them and get more accurate data. This is important because driveways are the most efficient place to charge vehicles.
In 2019, the average price of the top three selling EVs was €32,500. The average price of the top three selling EVs in the first six months of this year was €43,000. All of these prices exclude the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, grants. This shows our tastes are changing but so too is the average price Irish customers are choosing to pay. The debate on when the price of electric vehicles will reach parity with non-electric vehicles is varied. Industry commentators and academics provide strong arguments for both sides. However, the timeline for when parity is likely to happen is unclear. As such, any policy depending or based on parity needs to be afforded some level of risk.
Ireland has ambitious EV targets but so do many other countries in Europe and around the world. Ireland will be competing for the supply of these vehicles and supply issues may impact our ability to reach goals and fulfil our ambition. Government subvention in this market works and many examples from around the world show that when they are taken away the demand falls. Countries such as Norway provide extensive monetary and non-monetary incentives to encourage this transition. Research conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the current incentives show a benefit-cost ratio of replacing a petrol car with an electric vehicle of 0.1444.
The carbon projections for Ireland in the transport field are clear. We need to throw the kitchen sink at the issue to meet the 51% carbon reduction. We need to be clever in how we spend available incentives for EVs to make sure we get the greatest carbon reductions. Some of the following policies need to be considered. The second-hand EV car market needs incentives to ensure it is healthy. This will help to reduce the cost of these vehicles and assist in a just transition. Of the used cars for sale this morning on carzone.ie, only 3% are electric. As previously stated, cars spend 95% of their time parked. My research shows that shared cars have the potential to reduce car ownership and encourage a greater use of non-car modes. A national pilot for shared electric vehicles should be considered. Research conducted by the ITF on Dublin shows that shared options have the ability to yield significant benefits.
Ireland has more than 21,000 taxis. Incentives to electrify this fleet to date have been unsuccessful. This is a large fleet that could be converted with greater engagement with the industry. We need to look at the promotion of electric bicycles. These are also electric vehicles. Their ability to decarbonise and decongest our cities and urban areas is an important element we need to examine. Rural Ireland has a number or areas experiencing transport disadvantage. These areas also have high emissions, which are primarily caused by the distances that have to be travelled. Electric vehicles may be the most effective way to decarbonise these areas. Targeted incentives need to be considered.
I thank the committee for its invitation to speak. I will welcome discussion and questions.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
I thank the committee for the invitation to speak at the meeting. I echo the congratulations to the committee for its report on transport emissions last month.
I am a lecturer in energy systems modelling in University College Cork, UCC, and I lead research and model development within the MaREI Centre. Most recently, I have been leading the development of the new TIMES-Ireland energy systems model, funded by the Department, and supporting the Climate Change Advisory Council on carbon budget deliberations. I also have expertise in transport energy modelling and was a former colleague of Mr. Cazzola at the International Energy Agency.
Our modelling points to how challenging meeting the target of halving greenhouse gases by 2030 will be. With business-as-usual energy demands, and without breakthrough technologies, we will see marginal abatement costs of well over €1,000 per tonne by 2030. That means every sector will need to push for maximum feasible abatement or throwing the kitchen sink at the problem, as my colleague said. Incremental changes will not be enough to meet the target. It is likely that the transport sector will be required to reduce emissions faster than others. Depending on our assumptions of technology availability, the evolution of demands and efforts across other sectors, in particular agriculture, which is the other main emitting sector, our TIMES model sees transport emissions falling by between 45% and 65% by 2030. To succeed in that regard, it is likely that meeting the target of nearly 1 million EVs on our road by 2030 is necessary but, at the same time, that will be insufficient to meet the goal. The point is not that there is a choice between EVs or active travel. We need to use all of those means.
This point is reinforced by the recently published Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, emissions projections, which show that the measures in the 2019 climate action plan, including the 1 million EV target, will only see emissions from transport reduced by a quarter, as growth in activity, meaning people driving more, offsets the emissions savings from the measures. We have witnessed that in the past. It is clear that technology and fuel switches alone will not be sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement targets and could make energy more expensive, less reliable, and potentially require us to rely on imported biofuels in the near term, and negative emissions options like biomass with carbon capture and storage in the longer term. These are all problematic and could lead to unintended consequences.
The mitigation effort in transport is mainly framed around the number of EVs in 2030. That is problematic. It is like me planning to lose weight based on how much salad I will eat next year when the real effort should be on reducing the volume of junk food I am eating. In the transport sector, we should focus all efforts on reducing the number of cars, vans and trucks burning petrol and diesel, and minimising their use. Electrification is an important way of achieving that goal but it is by no means sufficient or optimal in all cases. We need to remember that oil use in transport needs to halve and go back to the level consumed in 1994 in less than ten years.
To achieve that, we need not just to focus on maximising the sale of EVs, we need to immediately minimise the number of new internal combustion engine vehicles brought into the country. That includes hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Our modelling sees little role for those cars, going forward. That also includes second-hand vehicles. Every car and van that uses petrol or diesel that is brought into this country from now will cause significant emissions well into our third carbon budget period.
It is concerning that sports utility vehicles, SUVs, comprise half of new car sales, up from 13% a decade ago. SUV sales far outstrip those of EVs. If we delay new car sales by a number of years until EVs have come down in price and charging infrastructure has improved, it will put us in a much better position. Focussing on EVs alone also fails to tackle strong growth in emissions from freight transport, which is a sector we do not hear enough about. Biofuels will also be needed. As far as possible, those biofuels, which will be needed to meet our 2030 target, should be produced domestically using strict sustainability practices, rewarding farmers who switch from livestock production. There are strong win-wins in that scenario.
We need to reduce the activity levels of cars, vans and trucks. In UCC, we are also developing models to understand how and why we travel. For example, included in my submission to the committee is a suggestion that more than one fifth of passenger transport emissions are from so-called companion journeys, nearly as much as for commuting. Much of that is for the school run. In 1986, less than a quarter of primary school students travelled to school by car. That share is now 60% and increasing. For secondary students, the share has increased from 11% to 42%. Only 2% of secondary school students now cycle to school. In 1986, more students cycled than went to school by car. This is not a surprise. The number of cars on the road has tripled since 1990, leaving much less space for people. We have devoted much of our public realm to vehicles to the extent that it is hostile to people, especially children. For example, many of my local primary schools do not even have footpaths leading to them and it is difficult to navigate those that have footpaths when one is pushing a pram and holding the hand of a toddler. This situation was not inevitable and is a failure of policy and planning.
In our research, we have also found that nearly 40% of passenger transport emissions arise from trips shorter than 8 km, a distance that can be comfortably cycled by most people, especially with an ebike. EVs will have the greatest value if they replace longer distance trips, especially trips which cannot be easily switched to bus or rail.
Another motivation for tackling and improving efficiency is the fact that if we do not, we may put immense pressure on the electricity grid. The growth in renewables may not be able to keep up with demand growth. Our modelling suggests that combining already strong business-as-usual energy demand growth with data centre demand and the electrification of transport could lead to a doubling of electricity demand by 2030. That means that efficiency is still a critically important decarbonising measure even in EVs. Smaller and more efficient EVs are better than large ones. That insight applies to all sources of electricity growth.
To look at alternatives to this business-as-usual scenario, we have modelled a new low-energy demand scenario pathway, which includes avoid and shift-type measures for all sectors. Our analysis is clear that the transition to 2030 will be far more feasible with lower energy demands. It brings down those marginal abatement costs to less hair-raising levels.
I call for more transparency behind the analysis underpinning national climate mitigation targets. In UCC, we have been opening up our models, making them open source and open data to great benefit. There is an expression in the community that all models are wrong but some are useful. The models are not crystal balls; they are only a product of who is using them and how they are being used. Stakeholders and society can only reach consensus on the best way forward if we start from a common understanding of data and assumptions. I thank the committee for its time and look forward to the questions and discussion to follow.
I thank each of our guests for some interesting, insightful and educational opening statements that will give rise to some thought-provoking questions for our witnesses. As this meeting is confined to a maximum of two hours, I propose that each member will be given two minutes to address their questions to our guests to ensure that all members get the opportunity to pose their questions. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I also ask members to state it in their question if they are directing a question to a specific witness. We will allow a bit of leeway for answers but I ask our guests to keep their answers as concise as possible to allow for a second round of questioning within the two-hour period.
I thank our guests. I will direct my first question to Dr. Caulfield on the issue of transport disadvantage. I have heard him speak on that topic previously. Are there examples of how that might be addressed? How can incentives be tailored and targeted to those areas? He has suggested that many who are availing of the supports to switch to EVs have other transport options. Are there international examples of how to use supports or subsidies to tackle transport disadvantage?
I also wish to discuss the dependency on cars and transport methods other than public transport. Is there a case to be made for incentives for commercial vehicles? People who use commercial vehicles need them and are unable to move their tools onto public transport. Is there an argument for greater support for commercial vehicles?
My next question is for Mr. Cazzola. We have a car tax system based on emissions. He mentioned that consideration is being given to, and discussions are taking place on, a distance-based charge. Could he give an update in that regard? I presume many countries are facing a challenge to move away from an emissions-based tax system. I note the ITF's report on delivery vehicles. That is an issue that comes up regularly. People are reluctant to move away from private cars because they think about the need for weekly shopping or the need for additional space.
I have a question for Dr. Daly on school transport. She identified it as an issue, and I know it to be an issue. Does she think that there is sufficient scale of ambition on the part of the Government and Bus Éireann? They want to get a 20% increase between now and 2030. There was an additional 1% increase this year. This might not be an increase at all. It might just be a recategorisation. What encouragement or advice would she give to the Government regarding opportunities to expand the school transport system, in addition to getting people out of the car and onto bicycles and walking?
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I thank the Deputy for some insightful questions. I will answer the first question on examples of how to incentivise rural transport. There are some great examples from Scotland, where there is demand-responsive transport. There are smartphone apps. It brings things we have in smart cities into rural areas. They can pre-book trips, etc. There is a great example from Donegal, which is Local Link Donegal. They partnered with Toyota. They use plug-in hybrid vehicles to bring people to medical appointments. There are ways to do this.
The definition of transport is advantage. I submitted a map as part of my opening statement. These areas do not have alternatives to cars. They have high levels of car ownership. They are also defined as "deprived areas" on the basis of the Pobal HP deprivation index. I frame my answer to the second question around captive fleets. I mentioned taxis, of which there are 21,000 in Ireland. Any of those captive fleets that you can hit all at once is where the low-hanging fruit is in the context of policymaking. You only have to look at the great actions that An Post is taking in the context of deliveries and electrifying its fleet in order to see what is possible.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
Thank you for the questions. The car tax based on emissions, as far as I understand it, is a system that applies at the moment of registration. That is one of the systems that can be used to stimulate transition towards vehicles with better environmental performance. The concept of distance-based charges is complementary. In a way, car owners also pay taxes once they run on roads because they consume fuels that are subject to excise taxes and VAT. Those excise taxes are collected during vehicle operation. The moment we switch towards EVs, those taxes will no longer become part of the Government budget. If there is a progressive shift to EVs, there will be a progressive decline in Government revenues from fuel taxation.
There is a need to address that shortfall in Government revenues. Distance-based charges, which are essentially applied to vehicles during operation and not at the registration, could be one way to bridge the gap. There are a number of regulatory developments that need to happen to ensure that this can actually take place. Some of them relate to the development of digital or connected legal regulations. This big cost could potentially involve paying according to different levels of congestion. This is important in the context of a transition towards a greater role of automation. This used to be a longer-term objective, but it is not so long-term in nature any more. I want to flag that there are tax-related challenges that need to be anticipated and dealt with in advance. It will be important to look into this problem and not to waiting another five or ten years before figuring out what to do about it. As stated, it is unrelated to the differentiated taxation at registration. Rather, it is related to fuel taxation and Government revenue shortfalls that may come in the longer term. I hope this clarifies things.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I apologise for leaving that question aside. We released a report in December of last year on delivery vehicles. Such vehicles have predictable uses and are often part of fleets. They are often used for urban deliveries. Similar to taxis, they are vehicles with certain emissions profiles. They are the subject of high daily use which is also predictable daily use. They are a category of vehicles that should be prioritised for transition towards electric, given the lower operational costs of electric vehicles. As well as this, there are opportunities for these vehicles to pay for themselves when transitioning to a more energy-efficient solution like vehicle electrification. I see delivery vehicles as being similar to taxis. There are some challenges in terms of vehicle availability. That needs to ensure that they can align with original equipment manufacturers, OEMs. OEMs are automakers. They need to ensure that there are components that can be shared between delivery vehicles and cars. This is already common practice by some of the automakers, though not necessarily all. Delivery vehicles are a segment that are naturally well suited to transition to electric in a cost-efficient manner.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
Thank you for the good question. We can be much more ambitious on mode shift and decarbonising school transport. That would require a raft of complementary policies. In other words, a combination of carrots and sticks. I offer a few suggestions. There is a target to increase the numbers of children travelling to school by bus. We should also look at the timetabling relating to buses in order that it does not take too long for children to get to school. We should also look at the costs. For most people, driving is cheap if they already own a car. Driving is actually cheaper than buying an annual bus ticket. We could look at who is entitled to school transport based on the distance from their school. We could shorten the distance by which children are entitled to school transport. Obviously, we could increase the infrastructure in order that we can start to measure and set targets for the number of schools that footpaths which are connected to the local town or village. Better still are protected cycle lanes. We can also disincentivise cars by, for example, removing parking and by banning idling outside cars. We could also have softer, more educational measures, such as information campaigns and competitions in schools. Schools could set their own targets and start tracking, for example. All of this should be complementary to more dense urban development, which means building houses close to schools. That is simple but important. We should make sure that neighbourhoods are bike- and walk-friendly. The electrification of school buses should also be looked into.
I thank the Chair and the witnesses. For the record, I am in the convention centre. I have a question for the witnesses on plug-in hybrid vehicles. These vehicles represent the greatest increase in electric car purchases. We have seen something like a 142% increase in sales of these vehicles in the first three months of this year compared with a 54% in pure EVs. They are still heavily subsidised, although I know their subsidisation is not quite the same as with full electric. However, there is still a grant of €2,500 per vehicle. Reports late last year indicated that plug-in hybrids are not as environmentally friendly as thought and do not have the capacity to reduce emissions to the extent that we believed they had. In that context, I wonder whether witnesses think that there should be subsidisation of plug-in hybrids or whether the focus should be on pure EVs at this stage? There is a risk that people buy these cars in the belief that they are doing the right thing. In a few years’ time, however, they will be pushed to move to full electric. A number of years ago, I bought a diesel car. I did a load of research on it. We were told that diesel was the most environmentally friendly option. I did all the work on it. It was a big investment. I bought a brand-new car and, then, a number of years later, I was told that I had done the wrong thing. Is there a risk with plug-in hybrids that we are subsidising and encouraging people to go down that road?
Dr. Hannah Daly:
I thank the Deputy for the question. I agree that if it is a question of a pure battery EV in two or three years versus a plug-in hybrid now, we should go for the EV in a number of years. The plug-in hybrids are an important transition technology and they are good to get that bottom curve of the EV deployment off to a start. We are beyond transition technologies now, however.
As the Deputy pointed out, the emissions savings accounted for in the testing cycles are less than we would see in real world driving because people simply do not plug them in or have longer distances to travel than they would have. They are also large SUV-type vehicles. We must remember, therefore, that any new car sold now will be around for 15 years and in 15 years, things will be very different. I agree with her on the analogy with diesel.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I completely agree with my colleague from UCC. The incentive should be taken away from plug-in vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The time for transition is over on these vehicles and lots of very big, expensive vehicles are enjoying this €2,500 subsidy, which should be taken away. I would much rather see that subsidy given to electric bikes or other light EVs than to plug-in hybrid vehicles. They tend to be the ones that cost an awful lot of money, for example, Lexus, Land Rover, etc. It makes people feel a little bit better. Perhaps if the benefit is there with a plug-in hybrid then they should plug them in and that is their incentive as opposed to the government grant.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I agree with the fact that electric vehicles have a lower life cycle impact than PHEVs and plug-in hybrids. To the extent which plug-in hybrids are not used for electric driving, policy action can address the way all-electric driving in plug-in hybrids is actually measured. The test values lean towards a high share of all-electric driving. If the share of all-electric driving from testing is revised, it can better reflect the performance of plug-in hybrids. That has implications on the types of subsidies they would get, for example, once we have different rates of taxation based on grant subsidies per kilometre.
Other policies can maximise all-electric driving of PHEVs. They are related to similar technologies that would allow for pricing and have to do with geofencing. One can, therefore, essentially enforce all-electric driving in cities, for example. People will have to charge to ensure that they can access cities. That, therefore, requires smart policy developments on the side of the geofencing.
There are also impacts, which I think should be mentioned, on resource efficiency. The fact is that a hybrid has a smaller battery for a commute and can ensure all-electric driving. There are also impacts on jobs. Due to the transition, the battery hybrid still uses a combustion engine. This is less relevant for Ireland. A transition needs to happen in vehicle manufacturing and a PHEV, in a way, can help dealing with that. There are pros and cons but I wanted to flag that this is part of the equation. I would not keep it completely out. That has impacts on jobs.
I thank our guests for coming to speak with us about EVs and how we might set policy appropriately in order that we might reach our targets or even set appropriate targets. They all made strong statements along the lines that EVs are only one part of the solution. I was heartened to hear those statements that we need to think about reducing our number of journeys with a modal shift to improving active travel networks, investing in public transport and so on. I thank them for making those statements.
Not all EVs are the same. Our policy needs to recognise a good EV versus a not-so-good EV in respect of greenhouse gas emissions and other issues and impacts on society. In that regard, perhaps the witnesses could elaborate on incentives for light EVs and physically smaller EVs versus, for instance, the heavier and larger ones. That is where we need to go. It would be a severely missed opportunity if we treated all electric vehicles the same and ended up with large SUV-type cars clogging our roads, notwithstanding the benefits they might bring in greenhouse gas emissions.
Similarly, we could bluntly incentivise EVs and say we want 1 million EVs on our roads by 2030. A total of 1 million EVs sitting in driveways in Dublin, however, are not going give us the emissions cuts that one million EVS spread out in a dispersed fashion around the country would. I am interested to hear about policy measures that can, perhaps, target that rural need versus the urban need. Members will recall Mr. Andrew Murphy of Transport and Environment, who has since joined our Climate Change Advisory Council. He more or less said that we should not have private cars in our towns and cities and that EVs are a solution for outside our urban areas. I am interested in the views of the witnesses on that.
Finally, Dr. Daly made an important point, which was that this should not be about maximising the transition to EVs but minimising the sale of fossil fuel vehicles. It seems that we need to do that rapidly and urgently. The fossil fuel vehicles that are sold now are going to lock in emissions for eight or nine years when we are trying to have more than a 50% reduction in transport emissions. I would, therefore, be interested to hear more from our witnesses on how we should curb the sale of fossil fuel vehicles quickly and early.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I thank the Deputy for some nice easy questions. On the first question around light EVs versus SUVs, we could look at the taxation base. Research we conducted in TCD shows that we cannot have zero tax on EVs because they still use the roads. There needs to be funding in place for the roads and their upkeep. One could, however, change or look at the model of charging by both the CO2 per kilometre driven and the weight of the vehicles and how carbon efficient they are. The Deputy is correct. SUVs and bigger cars have other problems when we start to look into the engineering and transport side. These bigger cars are also more dangerous for cyclists. They also take up more space and that is an issue.
I like the point about all these EVs being sold to basically sit in driveways in Dublin. I completely agree. EVs are running on the roads 5% of the time compared with renewable energy technology from wind turbines, which for 30% of their lives are producing renewable energy whereas it is only 5% of the time for an EV sitting in a driveway. The Government is spending money on this to enable it to happen and it should. The model of sharing these vehicles among people is, however, something at which we need to look. The ITF report, which I cited in my opening statement, states that we could get a 30% reduction in emissions in Dublin by having 2% of the vehicles we currently have. That is from stark modelling it did where there would be low car ownership in a city such as Dublin.
We do not have to go to that level. We need to look at that shared model. If the €13,000 in incentives given for an EV could be spread out over five or six people in a town or village, we would get much more bang for our buck. That is what we need at the moment. On the last question, which related to how to take fossil fuel cars out of the market, as Dr. Daly mentioned, these cars are going to be with us for a long time if they are being purchased now. A friend of mine recently bought a diesel car. It is almost like buying a house that has subsidence. Why on earth would someone do that at the moment? We need to look at non-fiscal measures as well, such as low-emission zones, to send a message to the market that these diesel or petrol cars will no longer have freedom to access all places. I do not believe that should extend to allowing EVs to use bus lanes. That cannot work in our cities. However, these non-monetary messages that we can put out could be key. It is a question of behavioural change. The SEAI has ramped up its game in this space. It is putting out the cost of these vehicles and encouraging this transition.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
I thank the Deputy. I have a few suggestions, which include changing taxation to a model based on efficiency as well as emissions. Road pricing is also important, as Mr. Cazzola alluded to. Some more progress on taxation and regulation is also required. With regard to parking charges, there is currently massive public subsidisation to allow for free parking. My local town, the lovely seaside village of Kinsale, is rammed with cars, which are taking up waterfront space in this world-famous village. As Dr. Caulfield alluded to, this relates to the area of behavioural change but it relates even more so to values. Once people notice how much public space is used to store private vehicles, they cannot miss it. They see it everywhere. The public acceptability of people leaving their cars in towns for the day and our values in that regard need to change.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I agree with what has been said so far. I will add one thought. In the case of Ireland, I expect that the owners or users of EVs are likely to take shorter trips. The longest trips made by Irish car owners are likely to be lower. They are shorter and cover fewer kilometres than the longest trips made by an average continental European car owner simply because Ireland is an island state and fewer long-distance trips can be made than can be made in parts of continental Europe. That means that it is possible that consumer preference may be satisfied with smaller battery packs for EVs. There could be scope to think about policies that are tailored to provide different incentives for different types of battery EVs. Vehicles with smaller battery capacity may be encouraged rather than those with large ones, which have emissions implications arising from the manufacturing of the batteries. There are also policies in other parts of Europe whereby price thresholds are used to avoid subsidising expensive EVs. This can act in the same direction and has better implications for equity. I agree with the point made regarding low emission zones in the responses to the third question on how to take fossil fuel cars out of the market. On vehicles sitting idle, this is a problem that is most pressing in areas that are densely populated. These areas are better served by public transport than areas with lower population densities. The best way to address the integration of public transport with new forms of mobility is through these avoid and shift measures, measures that have to do with urban planning, road space, location and the reinforcement of public transport services.
I welcome the presentations, which were thought-provoking. I was anxious for us to have this debate because I have been concerned for some time about this notion that we can have 1 million EVs on the road by 2030 and that this will, to some extent, solve the problem. The witnesses' research and modelling has clearly identified that this is not enough. I support everything they have said about it not being a matter of a one to one switch and about how we have to reduce the use of cars and the numbers of cars. They have covered all of this. They have come at these issues from an academic perspective but I am mindful that we are in a political environment and that this has to be sold to the public. Just because it is the right thing to do does not always mean that it will be accepted by the public. While there has been considerable buy-in with regard to climate change and reducing carbon output, even within the political sphere, I have seen the difficulties in addressing the kinds of measures that are necessary. Carbon pricing, for example, does not have universal political support.
I am conscious that, come the next election and when consumers start to see the impact on their lives, these issues may become politically divisive. That is why I am interested in any examples the witnesses may have of other jurisdictions where this has been done well. It seems that, notwithstanding people's desire to do what is right, unless the incentives are clear and obvious, behavioural change will not be achieved. The witnesses are correct about incentivising the purchase of electric bicycles and so on but it is a big step to move from a car to a bike. It is probably a smaller step to move from an EV to an electric bike. With the assistance of the witnesses, we need to chart the behavioural change required over time.
I look on in wonderment every September when we, as politicians, are challenged to address school transport issues with the Department of Transport. If a pupil is 0.1 km too close to the school, he or she does not get the ticket. I am of the view that all kids within the catchment area of the school should get free transport. There should be no charge whatsoever. This would have two effects. It would take away the incentive or necessity for the parents to drive but it would also get children using public transport at an early stage. If they become early adopters, they will be retained for life. It is the same with EVs. I have seen people who have taken the jump to an EV and, as a result, have changed many other aspects of their lives with regard to carbon output. I would be interested to hear about that.
The taxi fleet was mentioned. There was an interesting example in that regard in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. Dr. Caulfield might refer to that. Does he see any role for green hydrogen? As the witnesses will know, the ESB has some imaginative plans to generate green hydrogen at Moneypoint through the proposed deployment of significant wind farms off the west coast. Is there a role for that? Should we bring it forward? This goes back to what Dr. Daly said about the large transport fleet and heavy goods vehicles. I am sorry; I have gone on a bit.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I am not sure I understood fully, although I sympathise with everything that was said. I will start from the last question, which was on hydrogen. The impression I get is that hydrogen is best suited to situations where demand is great.
I am thinking of refineries or fertiliser production. Basically, it is about large industrial complexes. The benefit of hydrogen can be maximised there because distribution and transport, which are costly steps in the use of hydrogen, are not needed. If hydrogen can be produced at low cost, then it is probably best to address it to areas of large, concentrated demand. Beyond that, there can also probably be spillover to other ancillary sectors around those areas of concentrated demand. I am more sceptical about the rapid uptake of hydrogen as an energy vector for transport vehicles. There is also a gap in cost. Renewable electricity is likely to be cheaper as an energy vector and easier to access than renewable hydrogen for transport vehicles. That means that if we compare battery electric solutions to hydrogen-based solutions, we are likely to get a competition on cost that ends with the battery solution winning over hydrogen.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I do not think that makes a big difference. Distribution and storage are still needed. There will still be daily charging available for heavy goods vehicles even though the power rating is much higher. There is very interesting work published by Traton, the parent company of Scania, about why battery electric, even on trucks, sounds more attractive than hydrogen. My personal impression is that on cost, it is likely battery will also win for heavy goods vehicles. The exception may be trucks travelling long distances such as from Poland to Spain. There are also other related challenges with whether electric roads would be better than hydrogen on that so there are more open questions for that use case but we will first see the transition to electrification on local and medium deliveries and that will then expand. I will stop there.
I thank Mr. Cazzola. We might be able to come back to that. I am conscious Dr. Daly must leave at 2 p.m. and other members may have specific questions so we will try to go through it. We might be able to come back to the point on international examples later. I call Dr. Caulfield.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I thank the Senator for an interesting question. On the question of how we bring people with us, it is all around behaviour change. Behavioural change takes time. We have eight and a half years to do this. It took 13 years to reduce car usage coming into the canals in Dublin by 11% so this is going to take time to do. As I said earlier, we are asking people to throw the kitchen sink at it and asking people to do everything at once. As the committee will be aware, it is not just in transport but in agriculture, energy and every other space.
On the taxi example, I am not sure about the one in Copenhagen the Senator was talking about as I am not aware of it. The issues around the taxi uptake in Ireland relate to the models drivers have had to adapt and use. Taxi drivers are the same as us when we think about an EV. They are wondering what the range is, how many trips might they lose on charging, where the chargers are located and how much dwell time they will have around charging. Those are the kind of things we must look at there.
On hydrogen, the Senator is correct that the bang for buck is to be found with heavy goods vehicles. However, we must start to look at it for heavy rail as well. There are definitely possibilities there. I would like a study to be done on the comparison of the electrification of our rail network compared to using hydrogen. There are great examples from Scandinavia where they have managed to do this and there is a huge amount of potential there.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
Hydrogen's greatest value will likely come post-2030 and pre-2030 is where our greatest effort will be at the moment. However, it is important for balancing our variable renewables on an isolated grid so there is a strong role for hydrogen, although maybe not in transport.
The question on fairness and how to get public buy-in was interesting. I fully agree that we must use a combination of carrots and sticks to achieve this transition. If rich people get all the carrots and poor people get all the sticks, there will not be public buy-in and it will not be fair. Thus, we must ensure there is a limited role for carbon pricing beyond what we have now because additional carbon pricing will hit people who do not have the opportunity to buy an EV. This goes back to Deputy Leddin's question, which I did not answer, on how to curb the sale of fossil fuel vehicles now. My suggestion is a tax based on the whole-life emissions of a vehicle when it enters the country either new or second-hand. This would basically incentivise the people bringing cars into the country and who can afford new, bigger cars to do that. Also, we have a cap of, I think, €60,000 on a new EV that can attract the subsidy. We should consider bringing that down and differentiating the subsidy on EVs.
Senator Dooley also asked about examples from other jurisdictions. The transport issue is tied up with the housing crisis. If we can make it easy and affordable for families and people to live in an area where they do not need a car, that would be an equitable solution. I am thinking of somewhere that is appealing and has good reliable public transport, where they can walk and cycle to work, bring their kids to school and get shopping without a car. That is a win-win.
If there is anything our guests can come back to us on I would welcome that. If this could be an ongoing collaboration it would be helpful. For me, the piece is trying to get that model right to take people step-by-step. We had some comments before about a couple of cars per village or whatever. That is not going to work in rural areas but it certainly is going to in the cities. I see around Dublin the car-sharing model in now here. There are a couple of companies that have cars just left around like bikes and one joins up. Anything that can be done to drive that is positive because that is what will ultimately change behaviour. Then a person has control over what vehicle he or she is driving. That is the piece that is going to be the hardest for all of us. It is about getting over that gap between where we are and where we need to be and bringing the people with us without putting too great a burden on them. Any help or guidance on that would be really helpful.
We will move on now but on that point, witnesses can of course always make written submissions and if there are any international examples they would like included they should feel free to write to the committee. I call Deputy Bruton.
I thank our guests for those fantastic presentations. The question I am interested in was also raised by Dr. Caulfield. If it is true that 20 cars are idle for every one that is moving, there is a massive gain to be had if we can develop a shared vehicle model. I am just trying to get an understanding of how we can radically shift that. That seems to be the easiest thing we could do. Granted, it does not cut out journeys and bikes and so on, but are there good models of doing that rapidly? It has all those benefits Dr. Daly mentioned. I have done a bit on the circular economy and this is where the big gains are to be had.
I am interested in the comments on the housing sector. I live on a street where all the homes are probably four-bedroom and I do not think anyone has more than one or two empty nesters. The same thing about how we share vehicles may well apply to how we share our buildings. A building, typically, is issuing twice what a car is in emissions. I am thinking of that concept of redesigning our entire supply chain. That leads me to a question on Dr. Daly's presentation. She mentioned that she has done a low energy demand scenario and had the humility to say all models are wrong but some are useful. I am interested in what is radically different in that. What are the infrastructures we need to prepare and what are the polices that would change? The converse of that comes from her finding that with the 50% reduction, the marginal abatement curve is now €1,000 per tonne.
Everyone recognises that the previous 30% target was less ambitious. With it, 75% of the measures paid for themselves. The top was only €300 per tonne. This is €300 in perpetuity throughout the life of the vehicle, building or whatever is involved, which is scary. What policies would the 51% require to be introduced, going beyond our discussion of transport? That is a wake-up call to people who need to start designing alternatives. I would like to hear more about that.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
The marginal abatement cost in 2030 is certainly hair-raising. I will provide a few notes for context. We have modelled different levels of effort between agriculture and energy. We focused on energy. To meet the overall 51% target, if agriculture reduces by 20% or less, which is in the current agrifood strategy, then energy needs to reduce by more than 65%. With the marginal abatement curve, as we move towards more abatement, small additional levels of effort produce exponentially higher marginal abatement costs as we pick the low-hanging fruits and come to the hard, high coconuts, as my colleague said. We are modelling a conservative, business-as-usual scenario, with low levels of new technological breakthroughs. There is a substantial volume of new wind and solar energy but we do not assume much more bioenergy or demand reduction in the core scenario. That is not to say that this is what will happen or that the costs will be €1,000 per tonne but it is to hold up a mirror and say that if we need to reduce energy emissions by 60%, 65% or 70%, if we do not have low energy demands and there are no energy breakthroughs, then it will be extremely challenging to reach the target. This is why we have modelled the low energy demand scenario. It is a fantastic scenario from the top down.
We do not model in detail how each of the individual measures are met. We have a narrative around every sector. It includes freight kilometres per capitagoing back to what they were in, for example, in 2010, and passenger kilometres per capitareducing, sharing different segments, with a mode shift, and a reduction in total trips. It includes a reduction in cement demand because of a move to timber-framed housing. In the residential sector, internal temperatures go down somewhat and we reduce the size of new houses. We do not say how we can get there, what policies are required or what the cost of achieving that is. We need to do more work on that and to collaborate with people doing these things on the ground. We look at the systems. If we focus on all forms of low energy demand in a systemic way, it would reduce the size of the energy system and the speed at which we need to ramp up renewables, wind, electric vehicles and so on. If we manage to get these things done correctly, it would make the challenge much easier. We also have scenarios that assume technological breakthroughs, including more use of hydrogen, EVs coming faster and production of more biofuels. That also makes the transition easier. If the low energy scenario is combined with a scenario that is optimistic about technology, it is even more feasible, so that is what we should aim for.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
If I understand the question correctly, it is whether there are good motives to shift rapidly to shared systems. There is a need for systems that offer a better value proposition for cars. There are solutions that require, for example, policies such as road space reallocation and making modes of travel available that can complement or feed public transport services. For example, the potential of mobility as a service could be tapped into and different ways to move integrated. This also needs to come with sticks and parking policies can be a stick to get people to move away from cars towards public transport. Parking policy can also be differentiated by greenhouse gas emission performance of vehicles so it can help with the transition. Simply making part of the city harder to access by car and ensuring that there is a better offer with public transport means that people would switch towards that. This helps shifting uses and choices towards modes that are inherently more energy efficient. That helps to move to the low energy demand scenario by altering people's model choice. I am not sure I got the idea of sharing buildings or housing. Denser neighbourhoods are more prone to being favourable to choices other than car travel. There are other choices related to urban planning, transit-oriented development, or the integration of different modes, which can ensure that even in a scenario without technological breakthroughs, there is a move towards a scenario that is compatible with lower energy demand.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I thank the Deputy for the question. He is correct about the shared model. Those are the statistics that we have about how often these vehicles spend idle. It is a waste of perhaps the second biggest asset that anybody owns. Research conducted in the USA shows that every shared vehicle in a city gets rid of 15 other vehicles. There is potential for them. In urban areas of Dublin and Cork, the distances that we travel are quite short and alternatives are available. The bang for our buck from emissions is much lower. I disagree with what Senator Dooley said about these shared vehicles being successful in rural areas. I know of an example in Skerries where there is a shared car used by people to get to and from hospital appointments. That is where the big savings are. The distances travelled outside our cities are quite significant. Research that we conducted in Dublin with one of the companies shows that it was depressing car purchases. People were not purchasing cars because they have this shared option. People moving to Ireland and working in places such as Google Docks were not going to buy a car because they had this shared option. When we looked at people in the suburbs, this encouraged them to give up their second car because this alternative was available to them. There are many benefits relating to congestion and traffic.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
That model is in city centres where they are like a Dublinbike. They sit there and people can come along and book their trips. It gets people to think more about their trip because the price is higher than using public transport or cycling. There is definitely a role for industry here too. If people are driving to places of work, it could be done using shared cars. Dr. Daly correctly pointed out that transport, land use and housing are all interconnected. Transport connects where we work and live. In the strategic housing developments all around the country, we can encourage local authorities to change parking requirements. If a housing development is in an area that is densely populated, shared vehicles are the alternative. Dublin City Council has a number of fantastic examples of where this is working. That is where the State should invest and policy should drive that forward. We are talking about a shared vehicle. If we can get ten people to use an EV for a €13,000 incentive, we would get much bigger bang for our buck. We are looking at behavioural change as well. We are getting people to think about when and why they are travelling, because they only have access to this shared vehicle.
We need to pilot these things. A shared pilot for EVs will not be that expensive relative to the big transport projects we are looking at. We should pilot those schemes.
I am in Leinster House. I thank our witnesses. It has been a fascinating discussion and their opening statements were certainly thought-provoking. I was taken a little by what Senator Dooley said about the school transport scheme. He made a very thoughtful remark on incentivising children to make the change at an early stage in their lives. Interestingly, the transport committee had a discussion some years ago on the American approach to school transport versus ours and the fact that less than half a kilometre creates such a problem for so many children in Ireland, which, as was stated, incentivises their parents to get in touch with us every September. That is a matter we should look at a little more closely.
I have limited time and everybody has said a huge amount already. One of the issues I am taken by is the shared use of vehicles, particularly in our suburban environments. Shared vehicles are already in urban environments; whether they are used or not is a matter for the companies to inform us about. To incentivise a person to get out of their vehicle in a suburban environment and-or use a shared option, it occurs to me that use of the taxation system would be a progressive approach, either by using companies to incentivise their employees and-or incentivising individuals. Given the progressive taxation system we have in Ireland, it would seem a logical course of action to encourage the transition and to switch society over to more sustainable means of transport.
The research I have conducted over the past few years indicates that range anxiety does not really exist in Ireland, unless you are going from Donegal to Kerry. The vast bulk of vehicles, whether hybrids or otherwise, can do well over 400 km. People should not really say they are worried about range anxiety when they are driving to Galway because their vehicles have the necessary capabilities. The development of that technology has taken decades. The current space race is funded by individuals but if you go back to the development of rocketry and aeronautical technologies in the 1950s and 1960s, it took people working on Mercury, Gemini and all those other programmes decades to develop the technology. We are asking car companies and engine manufacturers to change dramatically the entire basis of our transport system over a short period of years. It stands to reason that there has to be electric vehicles costing €100,000 on the market today because it costs billions to develop them. At the same time, we also have to recognise that we must incentivise individuals to make those changes in an affordable and sustainable way.
The point I wanted to make on the development of the technology, and Deputy Leddin touched on this, is whether there is somewhere you can look at available electric or hybrid vehicles and grade them, similar to a league table, on their credentials. Dr. Caulfield mentioned this already in his prior comments on replacing combustion engines with electric vehicles not being the way we should go. It occurs to me that people need to be able to make informed choices and the taxation system should be used to incentivise them. From next year, all new combustion engines should be the subject of a differentiated tax base. That is my view on all these issues to disincentivise people from buying vehicles with combustion engines unnecessarily.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
I can stay a few minutes longer. I see Senator O'Reilly would like to ask a question as well. I thank Deputy Alan Farrell for the question. I will address some of the benefits of shared car schemes. My colleague, Dr. Caulfied, has more expertise on this, but once someone owns a car, or a family has two cars, he or she is much more likely to use it than a bicycle or bus. For example, when it is time for me to start commuting to UCC it will be virtually free for me to drive because parking is free but the bus costs €10 for a round trip and takes twice as long. Once I own a car, all of the upfront cost is on ownership rather than use, so the incentive is very much to use it. Shared cars remove that incentive and allow me to make the best judgement on what is the best mode for me on every trip, not just on my transport mode over the year as a whole. If I need to, let us say, go to IKEA to buy furniture, take my children to school or do something else, I will choose the best option for each one of those trips. I will not by default take a car. Other colleagues will speak more about that.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I share the view that shared cars end up reducing activity. There is evidence for that. The challenge with shared vehicles is ensuring buy-in. One aspect that needs to be maximised is to focus on solutions that have increased the adoption of car sharing. There are different forms of car sharing, some of which are digitally enabled and still focus on vehicles that are used more than average. It is important to pair low carbon and digitally enabled forms of car sharing, including peer-to-peer cases. That may be something that increases adoption. Ultimately, it is all about the cost of access, whether it is the cost of the service itself or the time needed to invest in it. If that is the case, then we will end up in a situation where there will still be the barrier of choice Dr. Daly mentioned. We will still need to have an overall reduction in total transport service demand or some degree of prioritisation.
One issue that has not been addressed is the subsidisation of on-demand services. This could be a solution that helps deal with the lack of access to public transport in areas that cannot be served due to cost but still enables access to mobility. There could be scope for thinking about the way to have a tailored intervention for those areas with different types of transport on demand. In a way, that links to the concept of sharing mentioned already and it is also something that would end up being provided by vehicles that had higher utilisation rates.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
The Deputy's question is very interesting. I echo the concerns Dr. Daly expressed about the embedded transport costs in owning a car. It is much cheaper to move around but the parking element she mentioned is key. We are very lucky in TCD in that 99% of people get to our campus by non-car modes, which is because of restricted parking on our campus.
I will make another point on shared mobility in suburban areas. Everybody thinks about the commute when they think about transport but that is only 25% of all the trips we make.
It feels like it is more, because it is to work and so forth, but it is 25% of the trips. The non-work trips cause the greatest amount of emissions and they are the ones we have to take out.
On the point about the vehicle manufacturers, they are making a lot of money out of this. They will be able to transition. The Deputy said that we are asking them to do an awful lot. We are asking our citizens to do even more. We are asking them to change fundamentally how they move and to do it very quickly, because policy, previous investments and previous Governments have let this slide. The real issue here is that we have to do so much so quickly.
If Dr. Daly needs to leave, that is no problem. She can respond in writing if she wishes. I wish to concentrate on the school transport issue. The last statistics I have showed that 30% of traffic in the morning, certainly in Galway, was school transport. I see from Dr. Daly's figures that 60% of primary school children are being driven to school. The rules relating to school transport, including that one must be 3.2 km from the local primary school or 4.8 km from the local post-primary school, are the reasons for that. Now, more than ever, parents are making choices about which schools they want their children to attend. Under the patronage system, 90% are Catholic schools, 5% are other religions and 5% are multi-denominational. Apart from that, schools get to make so many decisions on how they teach that parents are making more decisions in that context. I see that increasing, but we are not allowing children to take school transport to a school of their choice.
The part that is forgotten is that while one could say that somebody can cycle under 3.2 km, it is simply not safe for children to cycle. There could be another bus, but nobody really wants to put an eight-year-old on regular public transport. In addition, everybody needs to get to work afterwards. One could cycle 3 km to bring one's child to school, but where does one go to get to work? The whole thing is so complex that it becomes not a solution. Is Dr. Daly suggesting that we drop all those rules so that every child should be able to get onto a school bus? That is my first question. I realise we are discussing EVs, but if we could eliminate that 30%, we would go a long way to reaching our targets.
With regard to the EVs, there has been much talk in this session about car sharing. I looked into car sharing. In the end, it was not cost effective and we were going to have to change our lives to get to the closest place where one might pick up a car. It was not going to work for a family. Dr. Daly has addressed some of the models we might examine, but has she looked at what the buy-in is around that? Should we concentrate not on eliminating idle cars but on trying to make our cars more idle? It is putting our hands up and saying every family is going to have a car, but how do we get them to leave the car in the driveway? The focus on parking that Dr. Caulfield spoke about is critical to that. We need to have the two messages coming out of this. Let us have idle cars, but let us not have too many idle cars that we do not need. On that parking point-----
I had to park a car in Dublin and realised that the cost is about €2 per hour for parking, which is crazy. It is much less than a bus.
The last point is about the planning implications of EVs. If we are just moving to EVs, then we are building more roads. That has a knock-on effect in respect of other emissions, which has not been addressed.
Dr. Hannah Daly:
I agree with most of the Senator's points. We should definitely look into throwing open access to school buses and making them free. That, alone, is not enough. What about the cost and the time it takes? What if one's child goes to an after-school camp or needs to go early? We would be missing an opportunity to make the public realm more open to active modes if we did not look into providing every school with footpaths, cycling lanes and so forth. Bus transport is one part, but it should be within a whole package.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
I share the concern about school transport. More needs to be done on it. An Taisce has done amazing work with the green routes to school. Imagine what could be achieved if the incentives for electric vehicles were proportioned out to the incentives to walk and cycle to school. There has been great community engagement across Ireland on how to make that better.
On the shared mobility side, it works for some people and it does not work for others. There is no silver bullet in any of this or for how we make this work.
On the Senator's final point about road building, it does not sit well with me talking about the need to electrify all our vehicles. However, we have to in eight and a half years because there are no other alternatives. The alternatives, the bank of transport projects, will not be on line in time to meet the 51% reduction. I agree with regard to new road projects. While they have a cost-benefit analysis associated with them, there also must be a certain penetration of EVs in order for them to be built. We will not build new roads until we get to a certain level of EVs. There has not been a road built on the planet that does not result in extra traffic and extra vehicle kilometres driven. That is something we need to build into our road development schemes.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I agree with what Dr. Daly and Dr. Caulfield said. On the idea of making sure that cars are more frequently idle rather than getting rid of an idle car, I believe that providing road space for alternative choices is probably one of the priorities. Also, providing access to alternatives to car travel is a key choice. For me, that goes in the direction of ensuring that the school bus service is improved and that the access to bicycle lanes and the extent of bicycle lanes and footpaths are greater. Having other choices would help those who want to keep their car to keep the car idle more frequently.
Dr. Daly has kindly stayed to take my question. I will put my question directly to Dr. Daly and I have two further questions for the other witnesses. My question relates to school transport, an issue that appears to resonate a lot with the committee membership. It is probably because many of us are from small town Ireland. I am from Clonakilty which Dr. Daly is familiar with as it is over the road from Kinsale. It has a similar population. There are approximately 5,000 people in Clonakilty. Both of the secondary schools are on the eastern side of the town while the main new residential areas are on the western side. That is the way the town has developed, and it is too late to go back. We cannot undo and redo the planning on that. Obviously, the ideal situation is to create bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from the residential areas to the secondary schools but it can be quite a hike for some people. Is there potential for the city-type school bus in our small towns, perhaps an electric bus that would do a run through the estates? Dr. Daly is familiar with Kinsale and I can testify as to what happens in Clonakilty. There is the morning rush hour, as was mentioned by Senator Pauline O'Reilly, where between 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. the town is absolutely chock-a-block.
It is because parents are trying to get their children, in the case of Clonakilty, from the west side of the town to where the secondary school provision is, that is, to the two secondary schools on the eastern side of the town. The school transport in a constituency such as Cork South-West is mainly based on getting kids from rural areas into the main towns for secondary school. Is there potentially a place for small-scale electrified buses to do a run of the estates or does that go against what we are trying to achieve?
Dr. Hannah Daly:
It is a great idea. It should be looked into. I am a parent of two young kids. When they become more independent, if they had the option of cycling by themselves safely to school, I would take that option. It would reduce overall traffic and give them a level of independence, not relying on being driven around. It is more my personal intuition rather than my expertise, but we should try as much as possible to make that safe connectivity between schools and housing centres, which is dedicated bike lanes.
I thank Dr. Daly and for staying on. I hope we have not put her under too much pressure for her next appointment.
My next question is for Dr. Caulfield. I was struck by the potential congestion-related cost of €2.8 billion to the State by 2033, which he mentioned in his opening statement. Can he elaborate and explain how that kind of cost could be incurred by congestion in 2033?
The next question is for both Dr. Caulfield and Mr. Cazzola. Deputy Alan Farrell spoke on range anxiety. It may be that it should not be there but the fact is that it is there and is a deterrent to people, particularly in rural constituencies such as mine, from purchasing electric vehicles. I can understand that because an electric charging point is still very much a novelty in places such as west Cork. We all know where the local ones are because there are so few. The local authority has been tasked with installing charging points for electric vehicles in certain villages. The process seems to take forever. What can we do to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in rural Ireland? Speakers alluded to that being where some of the biggest gains are to be made.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
If I might respond on the electric buses, it is a bit outside electric vehicles, but my experience from looking at international research on trips to school is all about educating our kids around how they travel to school, more education on cycling and making that safer. The electric bus is a great idea but you would also have to look at it from a carbon budget perspective.
Congestion is estimated by the amount of time we are sitting in our cars when they should be running at a particular speed to get to wherever we are, not only cars but also public transport. The TomTom congestion index showed that in Dublin we spend the same amount of time in congestion in a year as it would have taken to watch every single match in the Euro 2020 championship twice this summer.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
That value is multiplied by the value of time. Everyone has a value of time associated with them. That is worked out by the average industrial wage. If people are sitting in their car, they are idle and they cannot work, that is how it is worked out. The value of time also goes to recreational and other modes of transport. As that figure comes from an Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service, IGEES, report, it was research done by the State on Dublin. That is how that congestion value is estimated. That is how we can justify building the mega transport projects, by reducing that €2 billion.
I think range anxiety is a good thing because it makes people think about where they are travelling and whether they have enough power to get from A to B, which can be a good thing. On the EV charging points, I am going to Baltimore next week for holidays. If I had an EV I would be starting to consider where I would charge. People do know where these points are. The future is moving towards rapid EV charging points that are spread out across the country where people can get 80% or 90% charge in a couple of minutes. I have concerns on the proliferation of EV charging points across the country. Will they become our generation's new telephone boxes, when technology will get to the point where someone can get an 80% charge at a station in a couple of minutes?
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
On range anxiety, I wanted to flag how the Norwegian statistics show the vast majority of charging events happen either at home or at the workplace. It is very rare to see a charging event happening elsewhere. The other places are destination chargers, such as in supermarkets, and eventually fast chargers. I have a hard time imagining that we will use EV fast chargers in the way that we use petrol stations today. The behaviour will change and move towards something that resembles more the way we charge a telephone rather than the way we fuel a car. Focusing on the availability of home chargers and access to charges at the workplace is probably the best way to deal with range anxiety and to ensure that the deployment of the charging infrastructure is aligned with the requirement of an electricity grid that will struggle to ensure that everyone fast charges. It will be much more costly to go in that direction rather than to ensure that we have the flexibility in parking the car, leaving it overnight and ensuring that it is charged in the morning. Many customers can do that. If they cannot do that at home, they can possibly do it at work if they need to go to work by car. Again, I am not arguing that as the best choice but quite the opposite, which is something we discussed at the meeting. Those are the most convenient and the most used ways to charge EVs if you look at countries that have a high penetration. I would rather take lessons from them on how to deal with range anxiety. I expect range anxiety will be less of an issue in Ireland compared to other parts of the world given the average travel distance. I expect the vast majority of trips will be easily covered by EVs with the range that is already available commercially today. I do not see it as such a big issue.
I thank Dr. Caulfield and Mr. Cazzola. They have painted a scenario which might not be so far away where no matter where one lives in Ireland, one can have an electric vehicle without reliability, range or charging points becoming an issue because it will be possible to charge a car like one charges one's phone.
In March, this committee heard that Scotland was introducing a 30% vehicle kilometre reduction target. It is probably inevitable that something like that will come in here too. There seems to be agreement among members and witnesses that it has to be a priority. Separate to setting a target, whether 20% or 30%, what measures would be required to achieve a reduction in vehicle kilometres?
I have some ideas. In our urban areas, we need to make it less easy to drive around and then we will get a natural reduction in the kilometres driven. Perhaps our witnesses could speak about the role of advertising in driving behavioural change. I am not aware but perhaps Mr. Cazzola is aware of advertising campaigns in Europe that are innovative and push behavioural change in order that we get that transition to EVs, bikes, walking, public transport or whatever it is. Finally, the witnesses might comment on the role of parking charges. It is related to the vehicle kilometre reduction approach. I expect that parking charges must be a part of that. If it is more expensive to park your car in the town or city, you will think twice about driving in. I am interested to hear the witnesses' comments on those points.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I will give this a try. If you want to achieve a reduction in vehicle kilometres, my gut feeling on that is that you may want to go there but while ensuring you maintain the same level of service in terms of passenger kilometres or tonne kilometres. To do that, you need to improve the vehicle utilisation factor. Rather than having single passenger taxi rides, you need to promote pool rides. You need to increase the amount of people you move with the same vehicle and, similarly, increase the amount of goods you move with the same vehicles. Today, there are more and more ways to do that by tapping into digital technologies and you need proper regulatory frameworks enabling that, especially in the case of the taxi rides I mentioned earlier or the transport network company, TNC, rides. Enabling pooling allows for a better use of those services. There is a rebound related with price but the end result would end up being a total reduction in our vehicle kilometres with an eventual slight increase in passenger kilometres.
Beyond those solutions on capacity utilisation, you need to have something that dissuades from using personal vehicles and promotes the use of collective transport. What the Deputy mentioned in terms of parking charges or policies that make access to certain parts of the urban environment to private vehicles, for example, will also reduce overall vehicle kilometres. The more you shift towards collective transport mode, the lower the vehicle kilometre, while you can still maintain a high level of passenger kilometres and a high level of access. Anything that does the job in that direction and helps shift people towards collective transport also ends up with a reduction of vehicle kilometres.
Other policies are those that help shifting towards non-motorised mode. We talked about these cycle paths, footpaths and reallocation of road space in order that people have greater ease in choosing or feel safer in choosing non-motorised transport options. More than that, there is also better integration of non-motorised transport with public transportation, reinforcing the role of public transport and facilitating choices that end up in a vehicle kilometre reduction.
The last question was on advertising. I am not especially accustomed with specific advertising campaigns in Europe. When it comes to EVs, one thing I want to say is that we started to see advertising for EVs, once EVs became regulated and there was a need for automakers to be part of the technology needs. Much of the funding needed for that advertising came out of the automakers' pockets more than those of the public authorities. There is a role from regulatory requirements that eventually ends up raising investments on the private sector side for the mobilisation of campaigns of this kind.
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
That is a great question from Deputy Leddin. It is a no-brainer in that we need to reduce the vehicle kilometres travelled. My colleague spoke quite eloquently about how we can do that. That should be a national goal of trying to cap the number of vehicle kilometres travelled. We also maybe need to start capping the number of cars we have on this little island to get us all to move around. With regard to the behaviour piece, there are many examples whereby EVs can be encouraged through behavioural use. I will give the Deputy an analogy. I spoke about the shared piece quite a bit but when we brought schemes like Dublinbikes into Dublin and all the other regional cities, we found there was an uptake in people buying their own bike. They no longer saw the need to use or rent a bike. If there was a shared EV scheme in which people got the experience of an EV, get to know the ranges and all that kind of stuff, that is perhaps the enabler to get them to purchase their own electric vehicle. The parking is a no-brainer. We model it. When the National Transport Authority, NTA, models this, you see that having a free car parking space at the end of your trip is the biggest enabler to get people to travel to work. I used an analogy earlier comparing UCC to Trinity. While they are two very different cities in terms of density, the parking is not provided in Trinity and 99% of our staff and students get there by non-car modes. You take away parking and you take away many of the options people have.
I could not speak before as I was not in the Leinster House precinct, but I am now. I have been really interested in the discussion. Others have spoken about the issue around electric bikes and that part of the electric vehicle picture, which intersects with that reallocation of road use and potentially, public transport, if we look at the links between bicycle cycling and public transport as a feeder. If the witnesses have any last comments on electric bikes, that would be really useful. In the limited time we have left, I hope the witnesses will comment on batteries. These are the ethical and environmental issues around the minerals, including nickel, lithium and cobalt. This is a core area. In terms of electric vehicles and the scaling up, ensuring we do not have environmentally devastating approaches to extraction of the minerals required. I know there is work and movement on our ethical alternatives and practices. How do we ensure the minerals used in our electric vehicles and batteries are environmentally and ethically sound? Can the witnesses comment on what is happening in that area?
Dr. Brian Caulfield:
It is a nice easy question on which to end. With regard to e-bikes, they should be part of those million vehicles. We do not specify they should be cars. The e-bikes should be in there and at a time, whenever it happens, e-scooters should potentially be in there. The Senator is 100% right about the minerals put into these cars. We are making our movement around our cities a little bit easier but at what cost? One of things I do in Trinity when I am teaching is a policy debate. One of them was on EVs. A bunch of students took that point of strip-mining lithium from developing countries, just so people in developed countries can get around a little bit easier and feel a little bit better about having a private vehicle to move around. How you do it is at an EU level, in that regulations are put in at an EU level to make sure this lithium and the other minerals are sourced ethically. That is the big question in all of this, in that we do not want to be turning around in ten year's time and looking at this in the same way as we looked at the diesel crisis and diesel gate. It is a fantastic question.
Mr. Pierpaolo Cazzola:
I am a fan of e-bikes. My wife would not be cycling if it were not for e-bikes. We enjoy bike rides thanks to e-bikes and I am very happy about that. They can bring people closer to the concept of non-motorised transport, especially those who would not otherwise choose such a mode of transport. As such, they are an important development that can really help to ensure that some car trips are avoided.
I echo the remarks of Mr. Caulfied regarding e-scooters. In the context of moving towards the electrification of cars, there is basically a roll-out of battery plans and a reduction in the cost of batteries. That will create a massive opportunity to also transition scooters towards electrification in a way that is very customer-friendly. One can just take the battery from under the seat of the bike, bring it home and plug it into a normal socket; one does not need any new equipment. It is a great system which helps to avoid lots of emissions that are unpleasant for bike users. I do not know whether members have ever stood next to a scooter at a traffic light. It is not the nicest experience in the context of a bike ride.
On the issue of minerals, I point to the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains. This is an excellent piece of work done by the OECD that we have already been flagging to policy makers in the context of the development of the European battery regulations, that is, the update of the battery regulations that was proposed by the European Commission. It is essentially a framework enabling greater transparency across the supply chain. It is a fantastic initiative and a very important requirement. Ensuring greater transparency is fundamental. I would not fight a war against dirty minerals; rather, I would try to ensure that the supply chain is developed in a virtuous direction. We should not pretend that fossil fuel extraction is immune to implications such as wars or other conflicts. Those factors exist. The important thing is to ensure that the transition towards renewable EVs can happen in good alignment with virtuous development.
That said, there are other aspects to be considered. Focusing battery use on highly utilised vehicles is another way in order to ensure that every kilogram of minerals delivers the maximum in terms of getting people around and cutting emissions. Sharing does the same, as does ensuring that the design features of the batteries fit with the concept of a circular economy and recycling. There is also potential in the context of PHEVs in this space. PHEVs require much fewer minerals provided we can ensure they are being driven using electric power because, otherwise, they will not deliver sufficient greenhouse gas emission reductions. I mentioned policy relating to geofencing and enforcing electric driving for PHEVs. If one takes those points along with the concept of PHEVs and some of the other advantages, so long as one can ensure that PHEVs are driven on electric power most of the time, they can be a resource in the context of the challenges that exist as part of the vast scale of transition towards the very different type of mineral extraction that I expect will result from the transition to e-mobility.
I thank Mr. Cazzola. It is after 2.30 p.m. so we will have wrap up the meeting. On behalf of the committee, I thank our guests for their incredibly interesting contributions, not just their opening statements, but also the way in which they have answered the questions of members. There were some very interesting and thought-provoking questions from members which I know will help the committee to draft a report on this issue, but also help to inform us in terms of how we approach the issue of electric vehicles. EVs will play an important role in reaching our emissions target of a 51% reduction by 2030 but, after the discussions today, it is clear that this will not be straightforward. EVs are not a silver bullet but they will play a part. I again thank the witnesses.