13 October 2021
The measures laid out in Budget 2022 are “just one small step” on climate action, campaigners have said.
In response to the reading of the Budget yesterday, Friends of the Earth Ireland Director Oisin Coghlan stressed that while the actions laid out were one small component on addressing the climate crisis, the “real test” is set to come with the upcoming first carbon budget.
The latter budget could be issued as early as the end of the week according to the Irish Independent and will set emission reduction targets for the country for the next five years.
Within the national State budget a number of climate and biodiversity measures were put forward, however, according to the Environmental Pillar coordinator Karen Ciesielski, there is still “a very long way to go” when it comes to addressing the twin crises.
The overall budget of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications increased by almost 20 percent when compared to last year and over 200 million from carbon tax revenue will be set aside to retrofit 22,000 homes.
Ms. Ciesielski welcomed the development on home energy efficiency, but stressed that given the Government’s own target of retrofitting 600,000 homes by the end of decade, “we need much swifter action to meet this milestone, particularly in the face of a rising carbon tax.”
The carbon tax is set to increase by €7.50 in this year’s budget, bringing the total figure up to €41 per tonne.
The Budget also allocates half of the increased carbon tax revenue to be spent on increasing the fuel allowance, which Mr. Coghlan called an “essential short-term measure.”
“In the longer term the best protection from energy poverty is warmer homes, with lower bills, healthier air and reduced pollution. Therefore, we call on the Government to focus their increased expenditure on retrofitting social housing and the 20 percent of households in energy poverty”, he said.
Both Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Pillar were also critical of the continued subsidisation of fossil fuels, which as of 2018 have come out to €2 billion a year.
In an op-ed for the Irish Examiner today, Ms. Ciesielski said that rather than eliminating these subsidies that could reduce economy-wide emissions by 20 percent by the end of the decade, the Government has instead “opted to tinker at the edges” by adjusting accelerated capital allowances for energy efficient equipment.
Mr. Coghlan echoed the need to move subsidies away from greenhouse-gas producing activities, and urged this channel of funding to be put into “100 percent community and renewable energy sources and urgently roll out heat pumps in homes.”