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Electric vehicles are not a silver bullet to the emissions crisis, warns expert

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Relying on electric vehicles to solve the transport emissions crisis is like tackling obesity by figuring out how much salad to eat while continuing to consume massive amounts of junk food, one of Ireland’s leading experts on energy.

Dr Hannah Daly, Lecturer in Sustainable Energy and Energy Systems Modeling at University College Cork (UCC) and former Modeler and Analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), addressed the panel Oireachtas’ climate change targets for emissions reduction of 51% by 2030.

Ireland must immediately minimize the number of additional petrol and diesel vehicles brought into the country, Dr Daly said, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

“Our model sees very little role for these in the future,” she said.

Dr Daly led the development of a new model of energy systems and supported the Climate Change Advisory Board in carbon budget deliberations.

The TIMES-Ireland Energy Systems Model assesses the implications of future alternative energy systems for the Irish economy, the energy mix and dependency, and the environment.

“The modeling of energy systems with TIMES-Ireland shows how very difficult it will be to achieve the goal of halving greenhouse gases by 2030 … It is likely that the transport sector will have to reduce emissions faster than other sectors. “

The model predicts a drop in transport emissions of 45 to 65 percent by 2030, she said.

To achieve this, it is likely that reaching the goal of nearly one million electric vehicles (EVs) on our road by 2030 will be necessary, but at the same time, it will not be enough, according to Dr Daly. .

“This point is reinforced by emissions projections recently released by the EPA, which show that the 2019 Climate Action Plan measures, including the 1 million electric vehicle target, will not see transport emissions reduced. only a quarter, with growth in activity offsetting emissions.

“In my opinion, the narrative around setting mitigation goals based on the number of EVs in 2030 is problematic for several reasons. It would be like planning to lose weight based on a quantity goal. salad I’m going to eat next year, when in reality I need to cut down on junk food.

“As with transport, we should focus all our efforts on reducing the number of cars running on gasoline and diesel and on their use. Electrification is an important means of achieving this, but by no means sufficient.” said Dr Daly.

Congestion

Associate professor and head of department at Trinity College Dublin’s Transport Research Center, Dr Brian Caulfield, said electric vehicles did not alleviate the congestion problem.

“There are fundamental issues to consider with private vehicles, regardless of how they are refueled. They occupy a large part of the environmental space built with roads and parking.

“Cars spend around 95% of their time parked. Cars cause traffic jams, and in 2017 it was estimated that this could cost up to $ 2.08 billion in the Greater Dublin area by 2033. Cars also cause problems air quality and increase particulate matter, electric vehicles are also heavier, which can make this problem worse, ”he said.

A national program for shared electric vehicles should be considered, according to Dr Caulfield.

“My research shows that shared cars have the potential to reduce the number of cars and encourage greater use of non-automotive modes,” he said.

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