New Regulations to compel the phase out of fossil fuel vehicles in public fleets

411

The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan T.D. has welcomed new regulations which give effect to the EU’s Clean Vehicle Directive.  These Regulations transpose into Irish Law the provisions of the European Clean Vehicles Directive concerning the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles within public bodies (Directive (EU) 2019/1161 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Directive 2009/33/EC). The European Communities (Clean and Energy-Efficient Road Transport Vehicles) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 381 of 2021) came into effect on Monday 2 August 2021.

Commenting on the new regulations Minister Ryan said: “Clean and energy-efficient vehicles are a central element in our future low-emissions transport systems. These Regulations bring Ireland in line with the European Clean Vehicle Directive targets for public procurement of road transport vehicles, and a step further on the pathway to net-zero carbon by 2050.”

The primary aim of these Regulations is to promote the uptake of low and zero-emission vehicles by setting binding minimum targets for the share of ‘clean’ (low- and zero-emission) vehicles in procurements undertaken by public sector bodies and consequently stimulating the alternatively-fuelled vehicle market. It applies to public procurement, including purchase, lease, rent, hire-purchase contracts and relevant services contracts. These targets are legally binding and will become more stringent from 2026 (see explanatory note below).

In developing these new Regulations, the Department carried out two complementary consultation processes in 2020 – a targeted stakeholder consultation and a public consultation. The consultation documents including consultation responses and summary paper are available on the gov.ie website (https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/268a1-public-consultation-on-the-eu-clean-vehicles-directive/).

The Department will continue to work with public bodies to ensure that they are aware of the requirements of the European Directive as provided for under the new Regulations and will support industry in developing relevant guidance material in this regard.

The S.I. can be found at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2021/si/381/made/en/print while the original Directive can be found at EUR-Lex – 32019L1161 – EN – EUR-Lex (europa.eu).

Summary of key provisions of S.I. No. 381 of 2021 

  1. Provide for the setting of binding minimum targets

The S.I. establishes in law binding minimum targets for the share of ‘clean’ vehicles in procurements undertaken by public sector bodies over the relevant service contract value thresholds. These targets are as follows:

LDVs Targets to 2025 LDVs Targets 2026-2030 HDVs Targets to 2025 HDVs Targets 2026-2030
38.5% 38.5% Trucks Buses Trucks Buses
10% 45%* 15% 65%*

 

  1. Definition of a clean vehicle

Additionally, the S.I. will define what a clean vehicle is over the course of 2 phases, with the definition becoming more stringent from 2026.

A clean light-duty vehicle will be defined as:

Vehicle Categories Until 31 December 2025 From 1 January 2026
CO2 g/km RDE Air Pollutant Emissions as a % of emissions limits CO2 g/km RDE Air Pollutant Emissions as a % of emissions limits
M1 50 80% 0 N.A.
M2 50 80% 0 N.A.
N1 50 80% 0 N.A.

 

A clean heavy-duty vehicle will be defined as:

Any truck or bus using one of the following alternative fuels: hydrogen; battery electric (including plug-in hybrids); natural gas (both CNG and LNG, including biomethane); liquid biofuels; synthetic and paraffinic fuels; LPG.

Conventional hybrid vehicles (without the capacity to recharge externally) are not considered ‘clean’ vehicles. Where liquid biofuels, synthetic and paraffinic fuels are used, they must be used unblended i.e. in concentrations of 100% without any fossil fuel, and be produced from feedstocks with low indirect land-use change (ILUC) emissions. This means that biofuels such as biodiesel produced from palm oil, which has very high ILUC emissions, is not considered clean.

The Directive also sets a separate definition for “zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs)”, as a sub-category of clean heavy-duty vehicles. A zero-emission HDV is defined as:

Trucks and buses without an internal combustion engine, or with an internal combustion engine that emits less than 1g CO2/kWh as measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 595/2009, or that emits less than 1g CO2/km as measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 715/2007.

Retrofitted vehicles may also be counted towards minimum targets if desired.

  1. Provide for the granting of exemptions to certain vehicle types

The following vehicles are excluded from the Directive:

  • Coaches (vehicles of category M3 other than Class I & Class A);
  • Agricultural and forestry vehicles;
  • Two- and three-wheeled vehicles and quadricycles (cat. L);
  • Track-laying vehicles; and
  • Mobile machinery

Under national regulation certain exemptions will apply throughout, these exemptions will be relevant to the following vehicles:

  • Special vehicles for use by armed services, civil protection, fire services and police forces;
  • Special vehicles for use on construction sites, quarries, ports, airports; and
  • Armoured vehicles, ambulances, hearses, wheelchair accessible cars and mobile cranes.
  1. Establish the reporting obligations upon public sector bodies and the reporting obligations upon the State to European Commission

Ireland will report to the European Commission on progress at a national level towards implementation of the Directive. The first national report is to be sent to the European Commission by 1 April 2026 and will cover procurement information from 2021 to 2025. National reports are due every 3 years thereafter.