Vehicle history and data expert reports today (March 14th) that fuel efficiency for vehicles in Ireland has increased significantly yet Ireland still faces stiff EU penalties for increased carbon emissions. examined fuel efficiency figures for all new vehicles sold in Ireland between 1998 and 2017. Over that time efficiency has increased by 35 per cent from 6.98 litres per 100KMs in 1998 (“l/100”) to 4.53 l/100 in 2017.

The largest increase was recorded between 2007 and 2017 when efficiency figures jumped from 6.56 (l/100) to 4.53 (l/100) an increase in efficiency of 31 per cent. This coincides with the Government’s Carbon Budget in 2007 and the change in the Motor Taxation regime for 2008 to benefit vehicles which produce less CO2.

A corollary of that is to confer a benefit on vehicles which are more fuel efficient as increased efficiency leads to production of less CO2.

Graph 1: Average Private Consumption by Year in Ireland (Source: Cartell, Carstat)

It has been reported recently that Ireland faces significant fines for a “serious rise in Irish greenhouse gas emissions” – which has been partly attributed to the transport sector where emissions increased by 3.7% in 2016. Yet fuel efficiency figures for new cars improved by 2.2% between 2015 and 2016. earlier reported to the media that the average annualised mileage travelled by a car 5 years-of-age or less in 2016 was 21,028 KMs. This represented an increase of 7.1% over the equivalent figure for 2008 (19,635 KMs).

So, while our vehicles are more fuel efficient we are using them more – this is resulting in our increased levels of CO2.

EU Emissions Target

In terms of our EU targets: the average emissions level of a new car sold in Europe in 2016 was 118.1 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km), significantly below the target of 130 g.

In Ireland the average emissions level for a new car sold in 2016 was even lower at 113 g CO2/km. However, the value for cars imported in 2016 was 118 g CO2/km and this actually increased to 120 g CO2/km for cars imported in 2017.

It will be a source of frustration for the Government that while we easily surpassed the EU emissions target (and the EU average) for new vehicle sales in 2016, we still face significant penalties in 2020, due to our overall production of CO2 – largely attributable to economic growth.

John Byrne, Legal and Public Relations Manager, says:

“While our vehicles are 31 per cent more fuel efficient than they were in January 2008 we are using them more. This has obviously led to an increase in our carbon footprint and Ireland is facing heavy fines – partly due to the transport sector. Vehicles imported into Ireland are also producing more CO2 than vehicles purchased new in Ireland. Overall the Government will be disappointed: we easily surpassed the EU emissions target in 2016 but still face heavy penalties.”