What portion of Ireland’s CO2 emissions are caused by private cars?


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Irish motorists hugely overestimate the emissions from private cars, putting the figure at more than double what it really is. The AA Motorists Panel survey received responses from 10,700 individual drivers countrywide. When asked to put a figure on ‘what portion of Ireland’s CO2 emissions are caused by private cars?’ the average guess was 29% (*see below). But the real figure, according to figures sourced from Sustainable Energy Ireland, is 13.2%.

“There is a real message in this.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “There is often such a disproportionate emphasis on car use when we talk about the environment. You hear so much about it that people are given the impression that it is the number one problem, which it is not by a long shot.”

The AA believes that the exaggeration of the environmental downside of car use actually distorts the public debate and prevents people from properly understanding the climate change issue.

“The private car is getting cleaner and cleaner because of improved technologies, but it very seldom gets the credit for this.” Says Faughnan. “This is clearly going to get better and better as new technologies like next generation hybrid engines and electric cars come to the fore. It is very important that we see car use in the proper context and not demonise it or irrationally place it at the centre of the climate debate.”

Very strong support for Government’s Electric Car policy
52% of all motorists support the government policy, announced last April, to have ten per cent of all Irish vehicles electrically powered by 2020. Very encouragingly, 46.7% of motorists believed that they would be driving an electric car within ten years.

“This level of support should be a shot in the arm for the plans announced by Noel Dempsey and Eamon Ryan last April.” Says Faughnan. “Is is extremely important that Ireland should take the lead in this technology. In the long term oil use is not sustainable. The resource is finite, and even now Ireland suffers disproportionately from oil price hikes because we use so much of the stuff.”

The concern here is more about energy security than greenhouse emissions. Ireland is a huge per-capita consumer of oil. We use 50% more per head of population than the UK. If Ireland’s population were 100 million, we would be using more oil than China.

“We want cleaner and greener cars for the sake of all of our futures.” Says Faughnan. “The 21st century car will be just that.”

“No doubt they will still break down, and the AA will still have to fix them.” He said.
* In your opinion or to your knowledge, what percentages of Ireland’s CO2 emissions are caused by private cars? (10,200 responses)

· Average value given was 29.38%
· 73% of respondents gave a figure higher than 13%; 27% lower
· 22% of respondents got the answer right (+/- 3%). 65% said 16% or higher, 13% said 10% or lower
· Females guessed a much higher figure than males. Their average was 37%, males was 24%
· Dubliners (urban bias) were not significantly different; their average was 28.6%
· 17-24 year olds guessed high – average 43.5%
· 25-34 year olds also guessed slightly high – average 32.6%
· 35-44 year olds said 27.4%
· 45-54 year olds said 27.9%
· 55-65 year olds said 26.5%
· Over 65s said 25.7%
* The government has announced its intention to invest in and promote electric cars, aiming to have 10% of cars running on electricity by 2020. To what extent do you support or oppose this policy? (10,576 responses)

Fully support: 33.2% overall, (36.2% male 29.0% female).
Somewhat support: 28.7% overall, (27.3% male 29.9% female).
Neutral: 30.1% overall, (27.2% male 34.9% female).
Somewhat oppose: 4.6% overall, ( 5.0% male 4.4% female).
Fully oppose: 3.4% overall, (4.3% male 1.8% female).
* How likely is it that you will be a regular driver of an electric car within the next ten years? (10,566 responses)

Very likely: 7.3% overall, (7.4% male 7.0% female).
Somewhat likely: 23.4% overall, (21.7% male 24.3% female).
Neutral: 22.6% overall, (22.1% male 24.3% female).
Somewhat unlikely: 24.1% overall, (23.8% male 25.0% female).
Very unlikely: 22.6% overall, (25.9% male 17.9% female).
Did you know? Some facts about our place in an oil-thirsty world
· The world consumes 85 million barrels of oil per day
· The USA is by far the largest user of oil, accounting for a quarter of global consumption (20.7 million barrels per day). With slightly less than 5% of the World’s population, the USA uses as much oil as China, Japan, Germany, Russia, India and the UK combined.

· China is the next largest user, consuming 6.5 million barrels per day. Completing the top 5 are Japan (5.5 million), Germany (2.6 million) and Russia (2.5 million). India’s recent growth moves it to 6th on 2.4 million. Our neighbours in the UK are ranked 14th with 1.8 million.

· Ireland ranks 59th. Our consumption is 200,900 barrels per day, which is about 0.022% of the global total.
· Small or not, we are thirsty. Our per capita consumption is 50% greater than the UK, and is two thirds of the per capita figure for US consumption. If our population was 100 million we would be using more oil than China