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climate action

74% of young car owners plan to cut down on trips or switch to electric, poll finds

However, 32% of car owners overall do not plan on making any change to the number of journeys they take.

THREE IN EVERY four young car-owning adults plan to change how they use their car – or already have – following the release of the Climate Action Plan, new polling has found.

74% of 18 to 24-year-olds plan to reduce the number of short car journeys they take or switch to a hybrid or electric car.

However, 32% of car owners overall do not plan on making any change to the number of their car journeys.

The recently-revised Climate Action Plan is targeting the government to ensure that walking and cycling are safe and accessible, that public transport is cleaner and more frequent, and that the rollout of electric vehicles is supported around the country.

Polling by Red C for The Journal interviewed 858 car owners from a random sample of over 1,000 people between 5 and 10 November.

The poll explained to respondents: “Under the government’s new Climate Action Plan, there are plans to reduce the number of kilometres travelled in petrol and diesel cars by 25% before 2030. This is just one of hundreds of actions to be published under this plan.”

With that information, it asked respondents to indicate which change out of a list of options they would be most likely to make, or if they would make no change, or if they didn’t know.

Overall, 61% of car owners intend or have already made a change in their life like reducing the number of short car journeys they take or changing to an electric vehicle.

Young car owners aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to say they plan to reduce their journeys or switch to an electric car, although none said they had already made the change.

They were followed by 45 to 54-year-olds, of whom 63% plan to reduce their journeys, switch to electric, or already have.

Nearly one in three (32%) car owners said they have no intention of changing their journeys, which rose to 39% in rural areas.  

12% plan to reduce the number of car journeys they take that are less than four to five kilometres in the next few years, and 15% intend to reduce journeys that are less than two to three kilometres.

7% said they don’t know. 

The Climate Action Plan, which was published earlier this month, has reinforced the government’s target of having 845,000 electric passenger cars on the road by 2030, along with 95,000 electric vehicles, 3,500 low-emitting trucks, and 1,500 electric buses.

The plan aims to increase the proportion of kilometres that are driven by electric cars should increase by between 40 and 45% by 2030 and to facilitate an additional 500,000 journeys made by public transport, walking and cycling every day.

“The proposed pathway in transport is focused on accelerating the electrification of road
transport, the use of biofuels, and a modal shift to transport modes with lower energy consumption (eg public and active transport),” it outlines.

In the Red C poll, 29% of car owners said they will switch their car to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle in the next few years, with the highest interest among 45 to 55-year-olds at 35%.

However, 55 to 64-year-olds were significantly less likely to plan on changing their car at 19%.

In urban areas, 32% of car owners are interested in switching to electric, but that drops to 24% in rural areas. 

Only 5% in total have already changed to a hybrid or electric car. 

Climate experts, though supportive of a move to electric vehicles, have raised concerns over whether the electric vehicle target is feasible at the current level of support being provided by the government.

Minister of State for Road Transport Hildegarde Naughton has said it is an “ambitious” target.

“We need to recognise the challenges at the moment. There are issues around range anxiety, where the infrastructure isn’t rolled out sufficiently across the country for people to have confidence in purchasing a full EV, particularly for example if you live in rural Ireland,” Naughton said.

“Midway through this decade the cost of petrol and diesel cars and electric vehicles will be on a par, so as we go through this decade it will become more of a prospect for many people, because I can appreciate right now it’s not affordable to get a pure EV for some people,” the minister said. 

Figures from the CSO for 2019 (before Covid-19) show the transport sector accounts for around 20% of all emissions in Ireland, second only to agriculture at 35%.

More than 70% of all journeys are made by cars, the majority of which are powered by fossil fuels and have higher emissions per passenger compared to modes like buses or trains.

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