Budget 2017 lacks ambition and falls FAR short of preparing the country for climate change, say environmental groups

October 17th 2016

While some elements of Budget 2017 have been positive environmental groups say the measures do not go far enough.

For the first time in seven years climate change was mentioned during the Budget speech as a number of new measure aimed at encouraging a low carbon economy.

Here they are:

  • The continuation of relief for electric and hybrid cars.
  • Incentives for larger vehicles to switch from diesel to natural gas.
  • Relief from the carbon tax for solid fuel with a biomass element.
  • Full relief to fuel inputs to combined heat and power plants.
  • Additional €50m in capital spending to assist the new renewable heat initiative, better energy grants as well as the electric vehicle subsidy.
  • The agriculture environment scheme GLAS is to be increased by €69m to €211m.

The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition made up of 28 national environmental NGOs, say these measures do not go far enough and action is needed across all areas to meet our targets.

In a statement they said: “Minister Michael Noonan emphasised the need for a prudent budget to avoid the failures of the past but the budget cannot be considered prudent if it is not fair for future generations.

“Ireland is one of only two European countries who are on course to miss their 2020 emissions targets.

“The subsidies that were announced to provide relief for efficient combined heat and power stations are positive but we need to harness the power of every person to reduce energy and every building to produce it.

“To meet the scale of the current challenge we need incentives for homeowners, farmers and communities to become renewable energy producers themselves.

“Also to deal effectively with climate change we need to strongly incentivise reductions in energy use in our homes and work places.

“We also need to change behaviour. Budget 2017 has missed a great opportunity to embrace Green Taxes.”

They described the two key failures of Budget 2017 as:

  1. No incentives to reduce consumption, waste or pollution.
  2. No mandatory feed-in tariffs for renewable energy producers: homeowners, farmers or communities.
Mindy O’Brien, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar said:
“Government speaks about delivering a budget for a fairer society, but we contend that we must embrace a budget for a fairer society for future generations.
“While we are encouraged by the pronouncement to achieve a low carbon society by 2050, we must lay the foundations for this new society now through increased investment in community renewable energy projects and through robust energy efficient retrofit programme for existing housing stock.
“There is little in this budget that supports the move towards a green economy by moving away from taxing environmental ‘goods’ such as income and imposing levies/taxes on environmental ‘bads’.  The government has decided to impose a sugar levy to tackle obesity.  We contend that a similar levy be imposed on disposable packaging such as coffee cups and other non-compostable single use packaging to affect behaviour change.”

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan also criticised the budget for what he said was a lack of ambition on climate action.

“We are increasingly shamed in the international community for our lack of action on climate change. This budget makes things worse. There is no increase in overseas aid.

“There is no funding for major new public transport projects and no mention of investing in cycling and walking as more sustainable and healthy transport modes.”

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