Higher diesel excise a step toward inevitable ban on diesel and petrol cars

Published by Niall Sargent on

Ireland’s leading environmental coalition has repeated its call for the State to increase excise rates for diesel as a progressive step towards the inevitable ban on the internal combustion engine.

The Environmental Pillar also welcomes the UK’s decision to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars from 2040, and the recommendation of our own Climate Change Advisory Council to follow suit.

Increasing excise tax on diesel to equal the price of petrol would be a step in the right direction toward this lofty goal, while also bringing in €110 million in revenue, according to the Pillar.

Diesel is currently charged at 11c less per litre than petrol and Ireland has one of the highest percentage sales of diesel cars in Europe.

The measure is one of three budget policies outlined in the Pillar’s pre-budget submission, together with an aggregates levy and a single-use non-compostable item levy.

The OECD has recommended equalising the rate, while the European Commission has called Ireland’s policy of taxing diesel less than petrol “environmentally unjustified” and encouraged the equalisation of price.

According to the Pillar, this could be done over five years to allow diesel drivers time to buy new electric or fuel efficient petrol cars.

The Pillar said that it has excluded farm vehicles from its proposal as they make up only five per cent of the diesel fleet.

According to Pillar spokesperson, Mindy O’Brien, the UK’s decision to join France and Norway in phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel cars “underscores the current global shift away from the internal combustion engine”.

“Our Government needs to take a serious look at the progressive steps being made by our neighbours, and stand up and be counted for, or risk being left behind on the international stage,” she added.

Ms O’Brien said that the phase out of diesel cars will have a positive impact on our climate change goals and lessen health issues from particulates emitted from diesel engines.

The World Health Organization has said that diesel exhaust fumes can cause cancer and emit ten times more health-damaging pollutants than petrol cars.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently found that a high proportion of Ireland’s urban population is now exposed to harmful levels of air pollution, with traffic the key pressure.

“Poor air quality in Ireland is causing more than 1,200 premature deaths every year, as well as poor health for many thousands more, and diesel fuel is a key contributor to this problem,” said Ms O’Brien.

“With this in mind, it is a no-brainer that we must remove the beneficial treatment diesel fuel now enjoys, and join the UK and France in taking progressive steps forward, instead of playing catch up later down the line.”

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London