Ireland has to move on carbon tax – why are we still arguing about it?

Smart Money: We need to cut emissions and avoid big fines – but politicians are nervous

 The  carbon tax rate currently amounts to about 5 cent on a litre of diesel or around €2.40 on a 40kg bag of coal. Even doubling the rate, the ESRI said, would only increase diesel prices by about 7%. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The carbon tax rate currently amounts to about 5 cent on a litre of diesel or around €2.40 on a 40kg bag of coal. Even doubling the rate, the ESRI said, would only increase diesel prices by about 7%. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Ireland has to increase tax on carbon – by a lot and over a sustained period. Our greenhouse gas emissions are way above target and we will soon start to face big fines as a result. And if we don’t move soon, our rising emissions will mean we not only miss 2020 targets, but also fall even further beyond meeting longer-term goals. Yet still the Government tip-toes towards the inevitable. Having flunked a small rise in last year’s budget, it will only now say it will “consider” it for the 2020 Budget. Don’t worry too much though – we are only talking about the future of the planet.

Higher carbon taxes on fossil fuels is a key recommendation in an interim Joint Oireachtas Committee report on climate action. But it has adopted the classic Irish political holding position of calling for more study, in this case to find out how to protect poorer households and how to use the money raised.

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