The price of petrol and diesel is expected to increase in next Tuesday's budget and more tax is also expected to be levied on new cars and imports.
The Government's Climate Action Plan is certainly not short on ambition and one of its aims - the introduction of almost one million electric cars on Irish roads within eleven years - requires swift and decisive action in order for it to come anywhere near its target. When the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue, delivers his budget speech on Tuesday you are likely to hear the start of a programme of tax measures that really begins the drive towards the electrification of motoring, whatever the issues yet to be addressed in terms of a national charging infrastructure.
What tax measures will be introduced have yet to be finally signed off on but some things are more likely than not to be included.
As part of an increased carbon tax, petrol and diesel are likely to go up by about two cents per litre - that would average out at somewhere between €1.20 and €1.60 per fill at the fuel pumps for the average car.
There is also expected to be a widening of tax bands, with higher emitting cars being levied more than lower ones. This could add several hundred Euros in road tax for the worst offenders. These are usually large SUV and luxury cars that have bigger engines and produce more grams of CO2 and Nitrogen Oxide than smaller cars. Again, this is part of the process of weaning people away from fossil fuels. "We can't let people continue to drive more polluting cars without some penalty being involved", said one source.
Interestingly, hybrid cars are also expected to benefit from better tax breaks than previously. When electric cars were given free passage through toll stations, hybrids were not - on the basis that they still have a fossil fuel-burning engine. Given that many people have turned to hybrid cars as an interim measure before committing to electric cars, this seems a fair measure as it at least incentivises people to move away from pure petrol or diesel.
Tax on imported cars is also being considered.
With the number of used cars being imported from Britain and Northern Ireland now almost surpassing new car sales (not far short of 100,000 will have been imported by year's end), there is expected to be an increase in the rate of vehicle registration tax applied when they are imported, thus making it less attractive to import, especially for cars with bigger and more polluting engines. The motor industry says many of the cars imported are not meeting the latest emissions standards.
Electric car grants are most likely to stay. They currently average €5,000 per new car.
When one considers the amount of work and change involved in trying to achieve even part of the 2030 climate action target, such measures would seem to be the starting point for the move away from diesel and petrol. Electric vehicle sales are way up but they are still miniscule in terms of what is needed to begin a realistic transition. And then there is the massive infrastructural challenge around charging electric cars and vans to ensure people can get where they need to without having to worry about turnning out of juice.
And, finally, with the Government committed to increasing carbon tax to €80.00 by 2030, next Tuesday's tax measures are only the beginning.