Taxing environmentally harmful practices could bring in €415m annually for green investment, say Environmental Pillar

Published by Dave Brooks on

September 1st, 2016

Environmental groups are calling on the government to tax environmentally damaging practices in the upcoming budget to change behaviour and raise government revenue.

The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 Irish environmental NGOs, has today released a Budget Submission, in which it proposes three simple measures: a levy on single-use items, a levy on the aggregates, and a levelling of the excise duty on petrol and diesel, which they propose would provide a revenue source in the region of €415m every year.

Mindy O’Brien, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar said:
“What we are proposing is a shift in the thinking around tax in Ireland. We know that certain practices are not sustainable in the long term and if we act now to change the way people and business work then the transition to a sustainable future will be significantly easier.”
The suggestion of a levy on single-use items would be applied on disposable plastic food wrapping or containers, aluminium foil and disposable utensils. A similar scheme is in place in Belgium and Denmark.
The aggregates levy would be a tax on every tonne of sand, gravel, crushed stone or other aggregates extracted from the ground or lifted from the surface and used in construction. A rate of €2.50 per tonne would mirror the UK tax and would encourage the recycling of construction and demolition waste.
The plan to level the excise on motor fuel by increasing the price of diesel to match petrol is based on the idea that diesel emits 15.5% more greenhouse gases than petrol so an incentive to use it is not justified. The OECD have recommended equalising the rate.
She continued, “Every year we delay laying out our vision for the future of our country, the less we will be able to cope in a low-carbon society. This future is coming whether the government wants to admit it or not. If we want our fleet of cars to be majority electric in ten years then we must bed in the incentives now, if we want less waste in five years’ time then we need to make it less profitable for businesses to generate it.”

These proposals, which would shift the point of taxation from income-based to consumption-based in a move to broaden the tax base, are accompanied by strategies for government investment in sustainable infrastructure and environmental protection. In moves that would prevent further contribution to, and combat the effects of climate change, they call for an increase in capital expenditure in areas such as public transport and peatland restoration. Other proposed proposed measures include restoring the Environment Fund to at least its 2008-2010 level of €60m per annum by introducing new polluter-pays levies, and introducing mandatory feed-in tariffs for the purchase of electricity from domestic and community renewable energy sources.

In a statement accompanying the release, the Environmental Pillar said: “these measures would improve our environment and promote a more sustainable future with people and the environment as its core.”

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to read the Environmental Pillar’s Budget Submission[/x_button]

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Dave Brooks

Dave works as Communication Assistant with the Environmental Pillar. His background is in psychology and he has a masters in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey.