Politics

Fianna Fáil politicians set to mount defence of carbon tax


A group of Fianna Fáil politicians are set to mount a defence of carbon tax at their parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.

A motion to be debated at the weekly meeting comes amid unease among some Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbenchers at the scheduled increase in carbon tax on gas and home-heating oil next month.

There have been Opposition calls, including from Sinn Féin, for the increase to be halted.

The carbon tax increase comes at a time that the cost-of-living crisis is at the top of the political agenda due to spiralling energy costs, caused in part by the war in Ukraine.

The Government is expected to press ahead with the increases though there is concern at the potential political fallout.

The motion at Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary meeting is being put forward by Dublin North-West TD Paul McAuliffe, Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan and Senator Malcolm Byrne.

It argues that carbon tax addresses both cost-of-living issues and Ireland’s climate action efforts.

It calls on party members to fully support the climate action measures in the Programme for Government.

The agreement reached to form the Coalition with Fine Gael and the Green Party includes a commitment to increase carbon tax to €100-per-tonne by 2030.

The text of the motion says that Fianna Fáil recognises “the increasing cost of fuel and the impact this is having on homes and businesses across the country.”

It also acknowledges the “challenging report” issued by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calling for stronger and swifter government action on the climate crisis.

The motions says: “We believe a carbon tax can address these two issues by providing ringfenced funding for; targeted fuel poverty payments, the better energy warmer homes scheme, increased retrofitting grants and the agri-environmental scheme.”

It says: “We fully support the climate action measures contained in the programme for government and call for their full implementation by government.”

The increases will add around €1.50 a month to the cost of home heating oil and €1.40 to a monthly gas bill.

On Monday Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the impact of the changes was “not as significant as the political debate around it would suggest”.

“The [cost-of-living] issue is of a far greater scale than the carbon tax issue which was put into legislation to meet an existential crisis of our time, climate change.”

He said the Government has to look at targeted measures to help households like changes it has made to the fuel allowance.

He said “significant measures” costing almost €2 billion have already been put in place to help households including the €200 electricity credit and cuts in excise on petrol and diesel.



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