Will Budget 2017 start Ireland on a sustainable path? Or more business as usual?

Published by Ian Carey on

October 7th 2016

It’s a simple idea: tax bad things, like pollution and waste, and take the tax off good things, like income.

That’s the idea behind Green Taxes and it is good for two reasons. It raises taxes in a broad way and it encourages people to lower their impact on the environment.

Despite the obvious benefits of that kind of revenue raising politicians in Ireland have been moving in the other direction.

In fact, a report from the European Environment Agency reveals that Ireland had more Green Taxes in 1995 than now.

Ireland was above the European average for Green Taxes in 1995 and is squarely below the European average now.

Next Tuesday the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will reveal Budget 2017.

It is hoped that he will bring about a number of Green Tax measures that will raise revenue and reduce impact.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 28 national environmental NGOs, have lobbied the government on these points.

Earlier this week they asked people to watch out for a number measures they want to see brought in:

1. Reduced VAT rate for businesses that carry out repairs and promote reuse
A reduced VAT rate for ‘recycle shops’ which promote the reuse of items such as electronic devices, white goods, clothing, shoes and bicycles. An example of this is Belgium which charges a lower VAT rate for labour intensive activities associated with reuse and repair. Page 15 of the Environmental Pillar Budget submission
2. A tax on aggregates
A tax levied on each tonne of sand, gravel, crushed stone and other aggregates extracted from the ground or lifted from the surface in construction. A tax of £2 per tonne is currently levied in the UK.  It would encourage recycling of building waste, reduce extraction, reduce carbon emissions, and assist in the regulation of quarries. If a levy similar to the UK was brought in it would yield €80m annually (EEA, 2010). Page 21 of the Environmental Pillar Budget submission
3. A levy on non-compostable disposable items
A charge on single use items, like disposable coffee cups and plastic cutlery, would discourage their use and reward businesses that put in place alternatives. Plastic waste is an increasing problem. Ireland is a world leader with the introduction of the plastic bag levy which led to substantial changes in behaviour. Similar packaging taxes are in place in other EU Member States. Page 24 of the Environmental Pillar Budget submission
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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.