Ireland seems to be the next country in line to ban citizens’ use of the diesel engine. With emissions on the rise where they should be following, this hard-line strategy has already taken roost in Madrid, Paris, Athens, and Mexico City.
Ireland, though, has no time to base its ban in a single city. With the irreversibility of climate change only eleven years away, the implementation of this ban is coming faster than many drivers may have anticipated.
The problem of diesel
Why target diesel when there are so many other emission sources operating internationally? Diesel engines distinctly differ from their petrol cousins both in their consumption and utilisation of fuel. Petrol engines use a combination of air and fuel to start them on their way, limiting their emissions as a result.
Comparatively, diesel engines use straight petrol. This means that petrol engines can produce nitrogen-rich emissions – or, emissions that aren’t as bad for the environment – whereas diesel engines will only produce carbon monoxide.
Diesel engines, then, contribute negative emissions to Ireland’s already-delicate ecosystem. That feels as though it should be reason enough to issue an eventual ban on diesel engines.
There are more complicated consequences of diesel use than that, however. Diesel’s impact on drivers’ health drives another prong of the anti-diesel argument home. Anyone who is continuously exposed to diesel exhaust for an extended period of time may find themselves experiencing the following:
Why? Because the noxious chemicals in diesel exhaust can cause chronic respiratory illness. In fact, diesel engines directly increase the risk of a person developing lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases.
Ireland’s rising emissions
These are the kinds of diesel-related consequences cities around the world are seeing. Ireland, specifically, now calls for the banning of diesel vehicles in light of its Climate Action Plan. Released in July 2019, this action plan revealed that not only has Ireland failed to meet its emission targets, but that emissions have, in fact, increased across the country. At this point in time, prior to any ban implementation, 85 per cent of Irish infrastructure relies on fossil fuels.
In the newly-released Climate Action Plan, Environment Minister, Richard Bruston, and Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, discussed ways to implement a country-wide diesel ban by 2030. This implementation falls along the expected eleven year deadline provided to the world by climate experts earlier. Even so, many citizens, lobbyists, and diesel-heads may feel like the turnaround on the ban is quicker than expected.
In that eleven year time period, Irish government officials announced their intentions to foster the biofuel and electric car market. Similarly, Ireland seems set to join in on an EU-wide ban on non-recyclable plastic within that same time period.
The Climate Action Plan elaborated on 180 measures that need to be circulated and passed through the government to make this future an attainable one.
The plan of action
Dive a little deeper into the Climate Action Plan, and drivers will find that they perhaps have more time to operate diesel vehicles than they’d initially believe. While new diesel vehicles seem to be a thing of the past, the Climate Action Plan does not immediately move to revoke diesel engine-vehicles from their rightful owners.
Instead, the plan emphasises that, come 2045, the government will no longer offer National Car Test certificates to vehicles that contain a diesel engine. Repossession, then, isn’t a concern, but drivability and legality may be courtesy of a diesel ban in Ireland.
A look into the diesel-less future
Is the future dark for the diesel driver? Perhaps. That darkness depends entirely on a driver’s attitude towards a new string of electric cars and a liveable planet, though. A diesel-less future on the timeline that the Irish government presents seems to offer drivers of all stripes time to adapt to a future of equally-functional, if differently structured, vehicles.
With no plans of repossession on the horizon, diesel cars could quickly become the Olds-Mobiles of the future, appearing at car shows to the great pleasure of an available, nostalgic audience.
On a lighter note, this move to remove diesel engine-vehicles from the road comes on the heels of a sharp rise in the sale of eco-friendly cars. Electric car sales in Ireland are up 541 per cent as of 2019. This increased interest in environmentally-friendly cars does correlate with increased concerns about the planet’s sustainability.
However, there are a number of features available in electric cars that are more exciting to the average driver. Partner an electric car’s gadgetry with Ireland’s steadily increasing petrol costs, and drivers may begin to see the advantage of a less conventional mode of transportation.
Ireland’s future looks to be one free of diesel. That future is coming faster than many anticipated, as plans have accelerated to match the prediction of climate scientists around the world. Drivers don’t need to look to the future with apprehension, however. With less diesel comes improved personal and environmental health – not to mention greater innovation in the automotive world.