We need to ban SUVs and high-emission vehicles from our major towns and cities to help prevent climate catastrophe, according to a UCC engineering professor.
It comes after the Environmental Protection Agency warned that “all sectors need to do significantly more” if Ireland is to meet its 2030 climate targets.
There has been an explosion in SUV sales in Ireland in recent years and on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, UCC Engineering Professor Hannah Daly said we need to do everything we can to reverse the trend.
She urged people to remember that we are trying to prevent a climate catastrophe and we are “majorly off track”.
“SUVs consume an awful lot more petrol or diesel than regular cars and people are buying them in huge amounts,” she said.
“This year for example alone about 58% of new cars were SUVs. That is four times more than 2012.
“So, we are going in entirely the wrong direction. We need to take SUVs - and all cars really - out of our cities and town s and switch to more sustainable modes of transport.
“Then, for longer distances and the countryside, electric vehicles are a great solution to decarbonising.”
Prof Daly said anyone that can afford a new SUV can “absolutely afford a new electric car” and while, larger cars are sometimes necessary in rural areas, SUV sales in Dublin are as high as anywhere else.
“We all are going to have make sacrifices to meet our obligations towards the climate,” she said.
“We can’t all just continue to live in this kind of luxury SUVs are emblematic of.”
She admitted that most people are unable to afford a new car – but warned that if those that can are continually buying high-emission options, there will never be a second market for electric cars.
“If people who are buying new cars now only buy SUVs, then they’ll be the only cars that are available to people buying second hand cars later this decade.
“If, in 2030, you say I want to buy a second-hand EV, there won’t be a good second-hand market for that, so we really need to address that.”
Urban SUV ban
The UCC Professor said there three main steps we could take to address the issue.
“Certain countries do exclude petrol and diesel or anything but low-emission vehicles from their town and city centres, so I think we need to look at low-emissions zones in places like Dublin and Cork,” she said.
“That would go a large way towards killing the new car market for SUVs.
“The second thing is education. So, limiting marketing or having a big health warning – I would suggest a planetary health warning on new car sales
“Then of course there is taxation so the tax on new cars can be weighted against heavier bigger cars as well.”
Last year, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy told Newstalk that SUVs are “anti-social monstrosities” that should be banned from Irish towns and cities.
You can listen back to Prof Daly here: