Carbon taxes to raise €9 billion in decade under proposed coalition – Bruton

Minister for Climate Action and Environment says funds would go to just transition

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for Climate Action, Climate Action and the Environment Richard Bruton has said the proposed coalition will raise a total of €9 billion in carbon taxes over the decade to fund just transition projects, more vulnerable sections of the community, and other earmarked climate-action projects.

Mr Bruton on Monday published new legislation to provide a €500 million fund to finance climate action over the next decade.

The establishment of the fund was agreed by the outgoing government as part of its long-term capital blue print Project 2040.

The money has been redirected from the National Oil Reserve, which has surplus funds.

A levy has been imposed on fossil fuels for some years to ensure the State has 90 days of reserve fuels in storage.

However, the income from that levy has exceeded expenditure so the levy and surplus funds will now be repurposed into a €50 million per annum climate action fund.

Mr Bruton announced the publication of the National Oil Reserves Agency (Amendment) and Provision of Central Treasury Services Bill 2019. 

While it is already the policy of the existing government, its timing is significant, given that Green Party members are voting on the programme for government until Tuesday.

“The aim of the Climate Action Fund is to kick start innovative or pioneering projects in the enormous transition which we have to make,” he said.

“Work is already underway on a number of projects, in areas such as district heating and an electric vehicle charging network, which secured funding under the first round of the scheme.”

Mr Bruton said that this fund is one of four already agreed, but that if a the proposed is approved, there will be a total of €9 billion in carbon-tax revenue to deploy over ten years.

Private involvement

Asked about the possibility that a Liquid Natural Gas terminal could still go ahead in a private capacity, Mr Bruton accepted that was a possibility but said there would a clear policy statement that any such project could get no State backing.

He said the new government, if in office, would issue a clear policy statement which would carry “weight” with the independent State bodies that make decisions in this area.

“What the implication is for a private interest is a matter for the (independent) bodies (which decide planning permission and other licensing). Those bodies will take into account what the Government policy statement is.”

Mr Bruton declined to comment on the voting process within the Green Party.

He said that what was agreed was an “exciting programme for government” with the potential to tackle the immediate crisis of unemployment, and also to tackle the longer term challenges such as climate change.