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Climate Change strategy must be reviewed in light of rejection of carbon tax option

10 September, 2004


Sinn Féin's Environment spokesperson Arthur Morgan T.D. has called for a review of the National Climate Change Strategy following the abandonment of a key element of that strategy by the Government which has announced it will not proceed with the introduction of carbon tax.

Deputy Morgan said:

"The Government's response to its obligations under the Kyoto protocol has been abysmal and as such the announcement by the Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy of a u-turn on the introduction of carbon taxes should not come as too much of a surprise.

"Under the Kyoto Protocol the 26 Counties greenhouse gas emissions were restricted to a rise of no more than 13% above their 1990 level. By 2002 green house gas emissions here were already 29% above their 1990 level.

"Carbon tax in the context of a reformed of the tax system, where low income families are adequately compensated in line with proposals outlined by the ESRI report 'Carbon Taxes: Which Households Gain or Lose' by Sue Scott and John Eskins, is recognized as a viable instrument in the reduction of emissions. One can only assume that the Minister for Finance has come under considerable pressure from industry not to introduce such a tax.

"The announcement in relation to carbon taxes follows the setting of weak and inadequate targets in the recently announced 'National Allocation Plan' on emissions. Those inadequate targets eliminated the economic inducement that is necessary in order for emissions trading to be an effective tool in reducing emissions output. The State's taxpayers and not the big industrial polluters will end up carrying the financial burden which will result from the State's failure to reduce emissions output in line with Kyoto commitments. The State is facing enormous fines or alternatively spending huge amounts of revenue (tax payers money) on emissions trading.

"It is obvious that there must now be a review of National Climate Change Strategy following the abandonment of a significant instrument for the reduction of emissions included in that strategy. The Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government must set out exactly how the Government intends to comply with its obligations under Kyoto. The Government must as a matter of urgency take measures including investment in and promotion of renewable energy and also investment in public transport to enable people to move away from their dependence on private transport which contributes significantly to carbon emissions. Compliance based on the purchase of additional carbon emission allowances on the international market is irresponsible in that while costing the taxpayer it involves no actual attempt to reduce the amount of emissions being created in the State." ENDS

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