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Policy Information

Transport and Climate Change

Published: 10 July 2019
From: Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

In response to the challenge of climate change, achieving a cost-effective way of reducing emissions is the key priority. Ensuring transport infrastructure and services will be able to withstand the likely future impacts of climate change is also a serious concern.

Low Emission Bus Trials

Under the National Development Plan, Ireland has committed to no longer purchase any more diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet and to transition to low-emission bus technologies, such as electric buses, in line with the Bus Connects programme. Extensive work has been underway to prepare for this transition in our Public Service Obligation (PSO) fleets.

In order to prepare for this transition and inform future purchasing decisions for the bus fleet, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport convened a working group in June 2018 to plan low emission bus trials to test a broad range of different fuels and technologies on real bus routes in Dublin City and Cork City. The buses are fitted with Portable Emissions Measurements Systems (PEMS) which will measure the exhaust emissions of the vehicle as it travels.

The bus trials commenced in December 2018 and the operational phase was completed in May 2019. Findings of the trials will be presented to the Department during Q3 2019. The different technologies tested included:

• fully electric;

• electric-hybrid;

• compressed natural gas/biogas; and

• two older diesel buses retrofitted to modern Euro-VI exhaust emission standards.

The buses were trialed on the Number 9 route in Dublin City and on the Number 207a route in Cork City allowing performance analysis over a range of topographical conditions.

The trials considered not only CO2 emissions, but the impact on air quality, the contribution potential towards sectoral renewable energy targets as well as other criteria such as costs, fuel economy, availability and infrastructural requirements for each low-emission technology tested. The operational phase of the low-emission bus trials has now concluded and the findings are currently being assessed.

Electric taxi grant scheme

A new grant scheme has been established by the government to support the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland’s small public service vehicles (SPSV) industry (taxi, hackney, limousine).

Available to applicants since 1st February 2018, the ‘Electric SPSV Grant Scheme’ offers grants, nationwide, for the purchase of new and second-hand electric vehicles. A grant of up to €7,000 will be available for battery electric vehicle (BEVs), and up to €3,500 for plug in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).

Fully hybrid vehicles and vehicles older than 6 years will not qualify for grant support under this scheme.

Applications for the grant should be made directly to the National Transport Authority (NTA). The application form and supporting grant scheme guidance documents are available to download from the NTA website

The electric SPSV grant scheme can also be used alongside other electric vehicle and industry incentives:

Home charger grant scheme: This grant scheme allows you to claim up to €600 off the purchase and installation of a home charger. The price of charging your EV at home can cost as little as €2 using cheaper night rate electricity (costs vary by vehicle and electricity supplier) and will be added to your normal electricity bill.

SEAI electric vehicle grant scheme: The SEAI operates a commercial electric vehicle grant scheme which offers up to €3,800 for a new electric vehicle. This is applicable to new vehicles only.

Free public charge points: There are over 900 public charge points available nationwide of which 76 are fast chargers. All of these can be accessed by registering for the ESB’s charge point access card and are currently free of charge. Contact ecars@esb.ie for further details. To locate your nearest charge point, download the ESB’s ‘ecar connect’ app, available for Apple and Android devices or visit ESB E-cars.

Wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) grant scheme: The NTA also administer a WAV grant scheme for the SPSV industry. This offers up to €7,500 off the price of a new WAV (lesser grant amounts are also available for older second hand vehicles). This grant scheme can be used in conjunction with the aforementioned electric vehicle incentives.

Electric Vehicle Toll Scheme

In July 2019, the government in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), launched a new tolling incentive for electric vehicle (EV) drivers.

The new incentive scheme will enable EV drivers to avail of discounted rates across a number of toll roads, with a 50% toll discount for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and a 25% toll discount for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), to a maximum value of €500 for private vehicles and €1,000 for goods vehicles

This incentive will mean major savings for an EV driver, particularly if the journey is done outside M50 peak hours where a higher 75% discount will apply. Analysis shows that a commuter using the M50 twice daily, five days a week, for 48 weeks a year can accumulate just over €1000 worth of tolls annually.

Drivers who make the switch to EVs also benefit from Government purchase incentives up to a value of €10,000 (€5,000 VRT relief and €5,000 SEAI grant), a €600 SEAI home charger grant scheme, qualify for the lowest band of road tax (€120 per annum), and access to an extensive network of public chargers which are presently free to use.

For anyone considering making the switch, see here for more information.

Low Emissions Vehicles (LEV) Task Force

In accordance with the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and this department, with the support of the Department of the Taoiseach, have convened an interdepartmental Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) Task Force.

It is tasked with presenting a range of measures and options to the government that will assist in fastening the growth of LEVs in Ireland.


The work programme of Phase 1 of the Task Force was divided between two Working Groups:

Working Group 1: Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility

The objective of WG1 was to present a range of 2020-2025 vehicle growth scenarios, recommend a revised national LEV target for 2020, accompanied by a roadmap and link these growth rates to a range of stimulus options and public leadership measures.

Working Group 1(WG1) was chaired by this department and looked at Market Growth Stimuli and Visibility. Papers presented at WG1 meetings included:

  • review of existing electric vehicle support mechanisms
  • examination of potential taxation options
  • public procurement policy
  • SPSV regulations and licensing with regard to opportunities to promote electric vehicles
  • electric vehicle public awareness programme 2018
  • examination of potential electric vehicle tolling incentives

We held an industry stakeholder morning session on Thursday 20th July where we reviewed previous presentations and our ideas so far. We received valuable industry perspective on the same, as a result of this stakeholder day.

Working Group 2: Infrastructure, Energy Regulation and Pricing

The objective of WG 2 was to devise a sustainable policy framework to ensure sufficient effective and efficient EV charging and fuelling infrastructure for Low Emission Vehicles. The WG should consider the operation and integration of public and private charging systems. Similarly, for other alternative fuels the WG should consider the development of a sufficient network of refuelling points, providing an appropriate range of options in terms of low carbon alternatives.


Based on the recommendations of the LEV Taskforce presented to the government in Q3 of 2017, in advance of 2018’s Budgetary and Estimates Process, a range of tax and spending measures were agreed, which clearly indicates the government's commitment to a low-carbon electric vehicle (EV) future.

In the transport sector, we were pleased to have secured major funding commitments as a result, which will actively address climate change on three key fronts:

  • through meeting the increasing travel demand through improved public transport capacity and infrastructure. In 2018 over €400m will be invested in public transport infrastructure, rising to over €500m in 2019, over €700m in 2020 and almost 1.1 billion in 2021. This is a four-year capital covering for public transport of over 2.7 billion euro, which represents a 275 percent increase in investment over that period
  • by investing €100m in a multi-annual cycling and walking programme to support greater uptake of active travel and promote a shift away from private car use
  • based on the recommendations of the Low Emitting Vehicle Taskforce a range of tax and spending measures have been agreed that clearly show the government’s commitment to a low-carbon electric vehicle (EV) future. Minister Ross was pleased to secure funds to introduce a new toll incentive regime for zero-emission/ultra-low emitting cars and a new EV grant scheme in the high visibility taxi /hackney/limousine (SPSV) sector, eligible for both battery electric and plug in hybrids

Progress Report

The Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Taskforce Progress Report contains the workings and findings of Phase 1 of the Taskforce’s work programme:

  • Chapter 1 of the document establishes the context of the Low Emission Vehicle Taskforce and gives relevant overview of the working group levels
  • Chapters 2 to 3 outlines the key policy considerations that were undertaken by both Working Group 1 and Working Group 2 covering: financial and fiscal incentivisation; public leadership initiatives; and the role of charging infrastructure (both public and domestic) in EV uptake
  • Chapter 4 details a series of recommendations that were presented to the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform by the LEV Taskforce in advance of the 2019 budgetary estimates process

Based on the work of the LEV Taskforce, the report made recommendations in advance of Budget 2019 which included:

  • extension, beyond the end of 2018, of the existing taxation supports which include VRT and Benefit-in-Kind reliefs
  • continuation of the existing supports which include the purchase grant, the home charger grant, the taxi/hackney/limousine grant, and the toll reduction
  • continuation of the EV Public Awareness Programme which will include a public awareness campaign
  • development of a new public procurement framework contract for EVs to allow public bodies to purchase EVs with reduced administrative burden
  • development of additional supports for public charging – taking into account the support that may be provided through the recent call for applications under the Climate Action Fund.


Phase 2 of the Task Force began its work on 27th September 2018. The work of Phase 2 will be divided between two Working Groups:

Working Group 3: Planning Legislation, Building Regulations and Public Leadership

The objective of WG 3 is to ensure that building and planning laws for new developments, at all scales, facilitate charging and refuelling infrastructure, where appropriate, and mobility for LEVs. The secondary objective is to ensure that simple measures such as marking of public parking locations and keeping these locations free for LEV users are implemented via the correct channels.

Working Group 4: Incentives and Infrastructure

The objective of WG 4 is to consider a range of incentives and infrastructure requirements to encourage the take-up of LEVs in Ireland, with particular focus on the heavy duty vehicle sector.

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Mitigation: Ireland's first National Mitigation Plan was published by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment on 27th June 2017.

In order for Ireland to effectively contribute to reducing carbon emissions, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act set out proposed statutory obligations in relation to the development of a National Mitigation Plan (NMP).

This Plan incorporates input from a number of sectors; namely electricity generation, built environment, agriculture and transport. Taking account of contributions received from stakeholders in 2014's Climate Change Mitigation Preparation of Low-carbon Roadmap for Transport and an information exchange event in 2015, this department developed the transport sector’s contribution to the NMP. Various measures were examined as part of this process to reducing emissions in transport. Particular focus was on smarter travel, modal shift, supports for alternative fuels, along with financial and taxation incentives to target behavioural change.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment prepared a briefing document which outlined the development of the NMP. It covers the four sectors concerned and highlights some key questions on how Ireland should achieve its national transition objectives by 2050.

Adaptation: Climate change creates new vulnerabilities and worsens existing ones. There is a lot of uncertainty about how, when and where the impacts of climate change will be experienced in Ireland but there is enough data available to start working to build resilience against the likely impacts over the coming decades.

The first adaptation plan for the transport sector, Developing Resilience to Climate Change in the Irish Transport Sector, was published in November 2017. The Plan outlines climate research and analysis on the likely impacts of climate change for transport – including more frequent storm events, rising sea levels and increased incidents of flooding. The Plan also highlights the positive ongoing work in climate change adaptation within the transport sector and other sectors.

A Draft Statutory Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Transport Sector , under the new provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and the National Adaptation Framework, was published for the purpose of public consultation.

The consultation documents are available to download at Public Consultation on the Draft Statutory Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Transport Sector and for public inspection at our head office and regional offices. These representations will be considered before the final version of the plan is published.

Further and more detailed Information on the predicted impacts of climate change on Ireland and on a range of adaptation options for Ireland is available on Climate Ireland

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