An Oireachtas Committee has heard that the creation of a strong market in used electric vehicles (EVs) will be crucial to hitting climate change targets.

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action also heard that the use of ESB charge points has trebled this year, up to 70,000 charging sessions a month.

Brian Cooke, Director General, Society for the Irish Motor Industry, appealed for the State to continue its "generous" supports for the sector.

"A strong used EV market will be key to reaching the ambitious targets in the Climate Action Plan," he said.

Mr Cooke told the committee that a recent erosion of the supports is premature.

He said that getting one million EVs on the road by 2030 is "not impossible - but it's unlikely based on the current level of new cars sales".

He warned that those who cannot afford to buy an EV must be supported.

Otherwise, he cautioned that they will be at risk of being "trapped and subject to increasing fuel prices, as well as increased carbon taxes".

Mr Cooke added that "the continued roll out of a national charging structure is crucial" - especially in rural Ireland.

The ESB's Marguerite Sayers said that there are now more than 1,350 charge points in a variety of locations on the island of Ireland.

The Executive Director of Customer Solutions at the semi-state, Ms Sayers said the ESB has invested heavily and is working to "significantly modernise and strengthen the charging network".

"We're committed to ensuring that our pubic charging network is reliable and the public have confidence in it," Ms Sayers added.

The "reliability rate" has risen to 98% this year, up from 84%. This means that virtually all of the charge points are available at any given time.

She noted that the most widely available charger is 22KW.

A driver is never more than 35km away from one of these charge points, she said, noting they can deliver a full charge in under six hours.

This infrastructure "will facilitate around 400,000 cars on the roads", she said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley accused the ESB of "a lack of ambition", and said its investment of "€80m to date" should be "ten times that, quite frankly".

The committee also heard that EVs do leave a carbon footprint.

Dr Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, warned that EVs "are certainly not zero carbon".

The highest proportion of trips in Ireland "are between one and three kilometres", he said, citing the National Transport Authority Travel Household Survey.

But he claimed that e-cycling has been largely ignored in the conversation around e-travel.

He told the committee that e-bikes not only help with climate change, they also revitalise towns and villages, and reduce congestion.

Dr Colm Byrne, who is a geriatrician, advised that - as Ireland's population continues to age - the more active people are, the more robust they will be.

Representing the NGO, Irish Doctors for the Environment, he advised building exercise into daily activity.

Cycling offers this, and many other benefits, he said.

Dr Byrne said he is seeing more people in their eighties who e-cycle.

He also appealed for roads to be made safer for cyclists.

"There is a huge appetite" in the car industry in Ireland to deliver on the promise of electric vehicles, Brian Cooke told the committee.

He insisted that it is "committed to driving down emissions".

Mr Cooke noted that much has changed since SIMI was last before the committee - four years ago.